Nordic Moral Repertoires: A Contribution To a Comparative Cultural Sociology Of Social Justice

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 6:15 PM
Room: Booth 51
Oral Presentation
Morten FREDERIKSEN , Political Science, Aalborg University, Denmark
The great values similarity between the Nordic states seems to be a fact beyond dispute (Kildal and Kuhnle 2005; Svallfors 2003; Svallfors 2006). However, since contemporary research primarily focus on the historical and socio-economic causes of these attitudes, the Nordic inhabitants reasons for having these perceptions are all but unknown. This paper seeks to contribute to an understanding of these reasons.

Identifying macro level drivers is crucial to explaining the development and continued existence of welfare states and institutions. Nonetheless, these are inadequate for understanding why people hold values and perceptions supportive of specific institutional structures: people express egalitarian ideas because this is important and meaningful to them, not because they have a working class upbringing.

The analytical framework applied in this paper is drawn from the Sociology of Valuation and Evaluation (Hall and Lamont 2013; Lamont 2012) emerging in the intersection between political sociology (Boltanski and Thévenot 2006; Wagner 1999) and comparative cultural sociology (DiMaggio 1987; Lamont and Molnar 2002). This approach suggests that perceptions of what is good and just differs between groups and nations because of differences in preferred cultural standards of valuation and evaluation.

This paper seeks addresses these research questions:

  • What are the dominant standards of valuation employed in justifying the level of redistribution in the Nordic welfare states?
  • Which group identities (nation, class, generation) are most salient to differences in standard of valuation?

The research project is a comparative cultural study of Sweden and Denmark focusing on issues of social justice. 60 semi-structured interviews are carried out in each country with people between 25 and 70 currently employed. The sample is balanced in terms of age, gender and class. The interviews explore the four subject areas: social justice, redistribution, work, and institutional legitimacy and trust.