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Title: Support for the European Union and the role of inequality : a cross-national examination and the case of the Republic of Ireland
Author: Simpson, Kathryn
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 5290
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2014
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Since the beginning of the economic and financial crisis of 2007/8 national-level contextual factors matter in different ways for individuals in EU member states when assessing support for the EU. Individuals hypothesise that EU member states economic affluence and quality of governance creates the salience of issues. This influences the criteria adopted by them when determining attitudinal factors towards the EU. When applied to individuals in less affluent EU member states individuals evaluate the EU on the basis of economic prospects, while in more affluent EU member states individuals rely on political criteria to evaluate the EU. In the least affluent EU member states individuals generalise their perceptions of national and personal economic conditions to the EU level believing that the EU does not represent their economic interests. In the most affluent EU member states individuals are equally critical of the EU but centre their judgements on the comparative quality of national governments and EU institutions. For individuals the assumption remains that further EU expansion implies continued market liberalisation. However since the beginning of the economic and financial crisis what individuals regard as excessive inequality may have little to do with inequality per se but whether the liberal-market economy as a whole provides high living standards and dynamic economic development. Inequality as a macro-political and economic determinant bridges the gap between economic and political systems at the national and EU level. Using data from European Election Study (EES) 2009 and Standard Eurobarometer data from 2009-2013 this inquiry examines individual-level effects on perceptions of inequality and how this plays a significant role when analysing mass public opinion support for the EU. By using a Binary Logit Regression model, Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) Multiple Regression analysis and Hierarchical Linear Modelling (HLM) the analysis demonstrates two predominant findings. Firstly, individuals believe that the EU has a positive role to play in addressing inequality since the onset of the economic crisis. Secondly, the role to be played by the EU in addressing inequality supersedes that of the EU member states’ governments and reinforces support for the European integration project. Overall, this demonstrates that individuals in the EU believe that the EU is best placed to address market-generated inequality since the onset of the economic and financial crisis of 2007/8 and as a result this produces increased support for the EU. These findings demonstrate a strong case for the inclusion of inequality as a determinant of mass public opinion support for the EU since the economic and financial crisis began in 2007/8.
Supervisor: Loveless, Matthew; O'Mahony, Jane Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JN Political institutions (Europe)