In this paper, popular perceptions on inequality and on the causes of poverty in Slovakia are analysed. The paper begins with the assumption that recognising popular perceptions will enable us to identify how socially marginalized people are represented in our society and what kinds of social policy measures are perceived as appropriate by the public. Our theoretical concept is based on a two dimensional typology with four basic types of poverty explanation: 1. individual blame or blaming-the-poor approach, 2. social blame or blaming-the-state approach, 3. individual fate and 4. social fate. In addition to an empirical analysis, an assessment is made as to whether perceptions are shaped by basic principles present in the judgment process (self-interest, i.e. the underdog principle, or enlightenment principle). The dynamics of changes in public opinion are examined through available comparative datasets (European Values Study 1991 and 1999, Society 2004). The results show that the individual socio-economic position has an effect on the preferred explanation of poverty causes. The higher the socio-economic position, the more stigmatising the opinion.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.