How three Narratives of Modernity justify Economic Inequality

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    The acceptance of income differences varies across countries. This article suggests belief in three narratives of modernity to account for this: the “tunnel effect”, related to perceptions of generational mobility; the “procedural justice effect”, related to the perceived fairness in the process of getting ahead; and the “middle-class effect”, related to perceptions of the social structure of society. The importance of the suggested narratives is tested by means of the ISSP 2009 module, which includes 38 countries. The finding is that belief in the three narratives can account for a considerable part of the cross-national variation. Beliefs in procedural justice and the existence of a middle class society clearly go together with high acceptance of current income differences. The “tunnel effect” is more complex. In general, belief in generational mobility goes together with acceptance of current income differences. But personal experience of such upward social mobility actually lower acceptance of current income differences, especially if overall generational mobility in society is believed to be backward. The framework explains most country-cases, which points to the existence of general patterns. But the models also indicate that the Philippines, and to a lesser extent the US and France, are special cases.
    TidsskriftActa Sociologica
    Udgave nummer2
    Sider (fra-til)93-111
    StatusUdgivet - 2016