Why Do People Stigmatise the Poor at a Time of Rapidly Increasing Inequality, and What Can Be Done About It?


  • Peter Taylor-Gooby


This paper starts out from a puzzle. During the past thirty years, incomes have grown more unequal, a small group at the top has captured a much greater share of resources and poverty has increased. Despite this, most people are markedly less likely to want government to redistribute income or tackle poverty and are less sympathetic towards those without jobs. The greater insecurity of many people's lives in the current crisis renders the issue more perplexing. This paper describes trends in inequality, poverty and unemployment; presents new data on attitudes, media discussion and political platforms; discusses theoretical approaches from social psychologists, political scientists, sociologists and other commentators; and considers how a more generous welfare state might be pursued.