How Can we Achieve a Sustainable Redistributive Policy? Rethinking the Relationship Between Civic Engagement, Neighborhood Relationship and Labor Market Status

Abstract

The aim of this article is to examine the effect of social relations on support for redistribution and to explore desirable forms of redistribution based on mutual understanding. Most previous studies have explained support for redistribution as insurance against risk or the pursuit of self-interest. Under the current framework, however, it is difficult to explain the establishment of a sustainable redistributive policy. To overcome this limitation, I focus on the role of social relations that suppress the tendency to pursue self-interest and promote support for redistribution. My findings indicate that social relations moderate the effect of self-interest and directly affect support for redistribution. From this result, I conclude that social relations could facilitate mutual understanding and alleviate the negative side effects of the labor market.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    Representative explanations include the EGP class hypothesis (Svallfors 1997), asset theory (Iversen and Soskice 2001), prospects of upward mobility hypothesis (Benabou and Ok 2001), fairness hypothesis (Alesina and Angeletos 2005) risk aversion hypothesis (Rehm 2009) and relative deprivation (satisfying rationality) hypothesis (Shin 2017).

  2. 2.

    Borrowing the terms used by Karl Polanyi, a self-regulating market economy is always subordinate to democratic society. Mark Granovetter more definitely stated that economic actions are always embedded in society.

  3. 3.

    Following Iversen’s advice, I do not simultaneously measure skill specificity and occupation. Iversen provided the following warning: “However, since the alternative conceptions of class often rely on simple classifications extracted from ILO’s standard classification of occupations (ISCO-88), which is also used in the construction of the skill variable, great care must be taken in designing the tests and interpreting the results. This note explains the problems in using class dummies extracted from occupational classifications, and then suggests a remedy.” Therefore, I also avoided the EGP scheme and replaced it with employment status. The EGP scheme does not reflect the effect of non-regular workers who experience insecurity and poor working conditions; rather, employment status encompasses the issue of non-regular employment. For more details, the interested reader is referred to the following site: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~iversen/SkillSpecificity.htm.

  4. 4.

    Piff et al. (2010) suggested a positive effect of egalitarian values and feelings of compassion on a more prosocial attitude. Arikan and Bloom (2015) more directly showed the effect of egalitarianism on attitudes toward welfare.

  5. 5.

    For more information, please see the following site: http://ssp.hus.osaka-u.ac.jp/en/.

  6. 6.

    For more information about the specific calculation methods, please see:. http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~iversen/SkillSpecificity.htm#Explanation.

  7. 7.

    Skill in the current occupation is mostly unnecessary in another occupational category. For example, even if a worker is proficient at oxyacetylene welding, he or she cannot use this skill for statistical analysis.

  8. 8.

    Separating politics from civic engagement is useful in the context of Japanese society for several reasons. First, except from 1993 to 1996 and from 2009 to 2012, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDPJ) has been the ruling party since 1955. Second, the turnover of voters varies according to age; for example, the turnover rates of voters in their 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 s are 32.58, 42.09, 49.98, 60.07 and 68.28%, respectively. Third, although grass-roots social movements and volunteer activities are widespread, participation in political movements has been relatively low since protests were defeated in the 1960s and 1970s.

  9. 9.

    This SPSS macro can be downloaded at the following site: http://www.processmacro.org/index.html.

  10. 10.

    Please check the web appendix to confirm the results of the robustness tests and explanations.

  11. 11.

    Related to this issue, Kirkpatrick et al. (2007) elaborated on community development in Oakland, California. Their case study focused on two different communities; one effectively protects itself against pressures of marketization and gentrification, whereas the other fails to do so. They argued that although the pressures of marketization threaten communities, overcoming these pressures is possible as they are operating on “the neighborhood’s strong network of community-based organization.” This result indicates that social relations may be a useful apparatus.

  12. 12.

    Barabaschi (2015) noted that solidarity is based on the willingness to share risks. Following this argument, workers who actively participate in community affairs and have specific labor market skills will support redistribution.

  13. 13.

    Iversen and Soskice (2006) showed that the middle class is likely to affiliate with a center-right party in a two-party majoritarian system. In contrast, in a proportional system, the middle-class tends to support redistribution. These results imply that support for redistribution depends on political context and circumstances.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 16H02045, as part of the SSP Project (http://ssp.hus.osaka-u.ac.jp/). This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 17J01448. I would like to thank the anonymous referee for valuable input in the process of writing this article.

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Correspondence to JaeYoul Shin.

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Appendix

Appendix

See Tables 4 and 5.

Table 4 Support for redistribution
Table 5 Social relations

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Shin, J. How Can we Achieve a Sustainable Redistributive Policy? Rethinking the Relationship Between Civic Engagement, Neighborhood Relationship and Labor Market Status. Soc Indic Res 142, 343–362 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-018-1922-3

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Keywords

  • Social relations
  • Neighborhood relationship
  • Civic engagement
  • Support for redistribution
  • Skill specificity
  • Redistribution
  • Social policy