The Just World Hypothesis as an argumentative resource in debates about unemployment benefits

Simon Goodman, Philippa Carr

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    4 Citations (Scopus)
    73 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    The concept of the ‘just world’ is established as a key explanation for how people make sense of inequality, so that those deemed to score high in belief in a ‘just world’ are more likely to hold prejudicial beliefs and to blame people in poverty for their situations. However, this is an inadequate explanation for such complicated and controversial issues. To better understand talk about the ‘just world’ and the controversial issue of the distribution of unemployment benefits (an issue of inequality) a discursive psychological approach to the ‘just world’ is used. Therefore, a discourse analysis focusses on two feature length British televised discussions about benefit claimants called ‘The Big Benefit Row: Live’ (Channel 5 3/2/2014) and ‘Benefits Britain: the Debate’ (Channel 4 17/2/2014). The analysis demonstrates that people draw on both just and unjust world arguments simultaneously and also topicalise what counts as just so as to support their positions on unemployment benefits, rather than in the consistent way that ‘just world’ theory would predict. It is therefore argued that the ‘just world’ should be recast as a cultural value that facilitates arguments about benefits, rather than an internally held belief.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)312-323
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
    Volume27
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2017

    Bibliographical note

    "This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Goodman, S. and Carr, P. (2017) The Just World Hypothesis as an argumentative resource in debates about unemployment benefit. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology (27) 4, 312–323, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/casp.2314. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving."

    Keywords

    • Just World hypothesis
    • Belief in a Just World
    • Ideology
    • Discursive Psychology
    • Inequality
    • Benefits
    • Welfare
    • Distribution of Wealth
    • Discourse Analysis

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