The social legitimacy of welfare measures in the ‘green transformation’
The mitigation of climate change and the protection of ecological resources require profound changes in established modes of production and consumption. Social policy is comprehensively challenged here: it must cushion the material risks of the population groups affected by structural change (e.g. jobs in coal mining) and the unequal distribution of burdens of new consumption models (e.g. petrol prices) and is responsible for accompanying labour market policy for a sustainable economy (e.g. through retraining measures). In this context, social policy measures are not only negotiated in terms of their concrete output legitimacy, but also in a broader socio-political context: In most European countries, plans for a ‘green transition’ are accompanied by a cross-cutting mood of optimism, but also heightened uncertainty. On the one hand, ecological protection and value orientations appear in the public perception in combination with a pluralisation of gender orders and family models that are oriented towards the needs of urban middle classes (e.g. preference for public transport instead of motorised individual transport). These cosmopolitan-liberal positions are identified with a green future and the gain in modernisation hoped for from the ‘green transition’. On the other hand, traditional life models that do not follow these developments at the same pace appear as backward-looking modernisation losers. In this mixture, the identification with classic family models, regular employment, rural areas and the nation appears to have an elective affinity with the rejection of climate policy goals.
The project combines a media analysis, quantitative survey research and qualitative focus groups to analyse attitudes towards social policy measures in the ‘green transition’ in Germany and Italy. The media analysis covers opinion pieces in different print media outlets to identify salient topics in the eco-social context and to distil specific liberal and conservative lines of argument. In a second step, focus groups with participants from different socio-economic groups will be conducted in Germany and Italy to unravel justifications and moral repertoires. All focus group participants will fill in a questionnaire with items of relevant quantitative surveys, so that a link between the qualitatively gathered justifications and the survey items can be made.
Funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg under the Excellence Strategy of the Federal Government and the Länder.
- Gengnagel, Vincent; Zimmermann, Katharina (2022): "Green deservingness, green distinction, green democracy? Towards a political sociology of a contested eco-social consensus", Culture, Practice & Europeanization, Vol. 7/2, S. 292-303.