[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2018.
In recent years there has been growing concern that the social legitimacy of west-European
states is threatened by immigration. The underlying argument is that immigration yields
racial, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, which is said to impact negatively
on feelings of
similarity and commonality among citizens. This, in turn, is claimed to erode trust
between people, which ultimately undermines public support for a system of redistribution
precisely built upon such solidarity. This phenomenon of 'welfare chauvinism', the
people from minority groups should be excluded from accessing the welfare state, has
been at the forefront of many political and societal debates. Also academics have
attention to the issue, predominantly comparing countries or analysing trends. Yet
on the lowest analytical level is often overlooked: do people express lower solidarity
claimants from minority groups than with those from majority groups, and if so, on
and under which conditions does this occur? To answer this question I use a novel
that we gathered among approximately 5000 respondents in Britain and 4000 in the Netherlands.
this thesis I mainly use survey experiments that approach the issue from various angles.
I find that in both countries, but especially in Britain, public solidarity with welfare
immigrant (and to a lesser extent also ethnic minority) groups is astonishingly low.
A majority of
the population stands very negatively to the idea that members of minority groups
also have access
to pensions, sickness and disability benefits and unemployment schemes. However, other
experiments paint a more nuanced picture: claimants' diversity characteristics are
dwarfed by the
effort they make to find a new job, which is a far more important driver of the perceived
deservingness of an unemployed person. I give evidence of a double standard in the
welfare claimants: in case of 'favourable' behaviour, such as making much effort to
look for jobs or
having a long work history, minority and majority claimants are not evaluated very
case of 'unfavourable' behaviour however, claimants from minority groups are penalised
severely. I furthermore demonstrate that welfare chauvinism is more widespread among
subgroups of the population. My thesis shows that the impact of diversity on solidarity
multi-faceted and complex. Accurate understanding of the matter requires nuance, as
recognition that the conflict between immigration and the welfare state is not a simple
issue, as is often implied in the political arena and the media.