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Popular perceptions of poverty in Dutch society


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  • Halman, L.
  • Oorschot, W.J.H. van

    (Tilburg University, Work and Organization Research Centre)

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    Studies on poverty are mainly engaged with the definition and measurement of poverty, while the issue of what people consider reasons for living in need is often neglected. In this article we explore four types of poverty explanations based on a) the distinction between poverty as a matter of fate or not, and b) the question whether poverty is due to individual or collective factors. The four types of poverty explanations are: the individual is to blame (laziness), it is the individual's fate (unluck), society is to blame (injustice), and society's fate (inevitable part of progress). It is investigated if these different types of explanations can be attributed to social-demographic characteristics, perceptions like self-interest and of welfare recipients, as well as to religious and political attitudes and values. Although the analyzes yield some evidence that such characteristics are related with such explanations, the evidence must not be exaggerated. Poverty is a social issue and therefore it is not so strange that social-political orientations, like welfare state attitudes, appear more important attributes than religious orientations. The analyzes seem to substantiate ideas forwarded by theories of secularization stating that religious values have lost their dominance in contemporary Western society. The importance of postmaterialism for both dimensions seems to confirm Inglehart's suggestion that postmaterialism has taken over religion's position. Further, subjective factors appear more important for poverty explanations than objective factors.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Tilburg University, Work and Organization Research Centre in its series WORC Paper with number 99.11.01.

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    Date of creation: 1999
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    Handle: RePEc:dgr:kubwor:199999.11.01

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    Keywords: poverty;


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    Cited by:
    1. Yul Davids & Amanda Gouws, 2013. "Monitoring Perceptions of the Causes of Poverty in South Africa," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 110(3), pages 1201-1220, February.
    2. Yeboah Asuamah Samuel & Kumi Ernest, 2012. "Attributions for Poverty: A Survey of Student’s Perception," International Review of Management and Marketing, Econjournals, vol. 2(2), pages 83-91.
    3. Leonor Costa & José Dias, 2014. "Perceptions of poverty attributions in Europe: a multilevel mixture model approach," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 1409-1419, May.


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