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Essays on the political economy of preferences for redistribution and deservingness in the age of realignments and new cleavages

Angioni, Giovanni Francesco (2022) Essays on the political economy of preferences for redistribution and deservingness in the age of realignments and new cleavages. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004447


Amidst the emergence of new cleavages, realignments, and the success of populist and radical right parties across Europe, the pivotal role of preferences for redistribution in defining political conflict has been called into question. My research aims to shed light on the importance of preferences for redistribution in today's European political context considering shifts in the electorate, the trajectories and development of the welfare state, and new party forms and strategies. Specifically, my research is developed along three directions, which combine different perspectives and methods offering a timely and original picture over redistributive politics and political competition. First, I study how candidates for legislative offices represent their voters' preferences for redistribution, analysing congruence levels and determinants across fifteen European countries over a decade. By providing evidence that congruence on redistribution is still significant, the study suggests that parties' seemingly unorthodox positions on redistribution are reflected in mainstream electorates, and that cultural and redistribution issues tend to be interconnected. Second, I study how Italian political parties politicise welfare policies in relation to the deservingness of recipients. In doing so, I capture which target groups are deemed as worthy or unworthy of receiving welfare by political parties by deploying content analysis of their Facebook posts. Findings suggest that parties' messaging about the deservingness of welfare for target groups varies not only depending on their antisystem vis-à-vis mainstream status and ideological leaning, but also on the electoral cycle. Last, I analyse how the mainstream left develops and politicises welfare and redistribution policies. Scholars are currently debating whether the mainstream left has abandoned its traditional focus on redistribution as a result of shifts in its electorate. To study these questions I adopt an elite-interview approach by directly involving the Italian mainstream left's leadership. The paper offers relevant insights into the role of redistribution in shaping party's campaigns, the nature of welfare and redistributive priorities, and the historical evolution of the Italian welfare state.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2022 Giovanni Francesco Angioni
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe)
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Lankina, Tomila V.

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