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Public perceptions of inequality, poverty and redistribution in austerity Britain

Taylor, Rebecca Katherine (2019) Public perceptions of inequality, poverty and redistribution in austerity Britain. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Britain has undergone profound economic, social, cultural and political changes. Following the recession of 2008/09 and the consequent implementation of austerity measures, both poverty and inequality became more pronounced. The consequences of austerity measures are profound and have had a lasting impact, and this has been widely evidenced. What was less understood was how attitudes toward the redistribution of income, and of people experiencing inequality and poverty changed, if at all, during this period. This research sought to understand how attitudes toward the income gap, people experiencing poverty and support toward redistribution changed during austerity Britain between 2009-2015. In doing so, this thesis has contributed to a growing body of research intent on understanding the consequences of austerity measures. This was achieved by undertaking secondary data analysis of three sets of micro data from the British Social Attitudes Survey (2009, 2012 and 2015). The findings suggest that perceptions of the income gap amongst the public reflect widening income inequality between people with high and low incomes. However, support toward measures to combat this form of inequality through the redistribution of income increased but was less favourable amongst the public throughout this period. Negative attitudes toward benefit recipients were also prevalent, with support toward redistribution less likely amongst those that held individualistic attitudes toward people experiencing inequality and poverty. Based on these findings, this thesis highlights where efforts to bolster redistributional support may need to be targeted to reduce widening social inequalities. Recommendations for the need for further research that seeks to not only understand why attitudes reflect stereotypical discourse, but also seeks to challenge these perspectives, are also made.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Inequality; poverty; attitudes; perceptions; public; undeserving; media; deserving; austerity; Britain
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Sociology and Social Policy (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.789489
Depositing User: Dr Rebecca Katherine Taylor
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2019 11:00
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25254

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