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Title: Political sociology of unity and division
Author: Sumino, Takanori
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 6530
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Growing economic inequality and cultural heterogeneity has brought increased attention to the issue of 'unity in diversity', that is, the state of being joined together or being in agreement in the presence of actual and perceived differences among people. Despite the growing interest in 'politics in divided societies', many political-sociological aspects of this issue remain largely unexplored. At the heart of this thesis lies an interest in explaining how social forces shape political preferences regarding the tension between unity and diversity in contemporary democracies. More specifically, this research seeks to understand how social (and identity-based) cleavages affect public responses to the idea of solidarity-based welfare provision and the reconciliation of increased ethnic diversity with national unity (including the functioning of the welfare state). Drawing on the institutionalist view that pre-existing policy creates mass politics (policy feedback effect), the study also investigates whether institutional structures condition the association between social forces and political attitudes. Although several chapters put particular emphasis on policy feedback effects (e.g., Chapters 2, 3, and 5), they are still within the general scope of this thesis, that is, the 'social embeddedness of political attitudes'. The thesis consists of two parts: the first assesses the explanatory power of socioeconomic status and social policy structures in predicting public attitudes toward income inequality, redistribution, and taxation policies (Chapters 2 to 4), and the second examines how differences in occupational status and national identity result in differences in reactions to welfare chauvinism and multiculturalism (Chapters 5 and 6). Taken together, the findings of this study underscore the importance of social cleavages, identity, and institutional structures in explaining why and under what conditions people are more likely to sacrifice part of their private interest or particularistic identity for the common good or the general welfare of all individuals in a community, in a situation of growing economic inequality and increased cultural plurality.
Supervisor: Fisher, Stephen D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political sociology ; Comparative politics ; social cleavages ; social solidarity ; institutions ; identity ; group polarization