Publication type: Journal article
Year: 2019
Author: Jeremy Seekings
Journal:Critical Social Policy


Because redistribution concerns ‘who gets what and from whom’, redistributive conflicts revolve around ‘who should get what and from whom’. Individuals as well as states distinguish between deserving and undeserving claimants. People may favour people they know over strangers, kin over non-kin, or some kin over other kin. This paper uses data from survey experiments to show that young South Africans distinguish between deserving and undeserving claimants on both the state and kin. The hierarchy of desert with respect to public welfare is clear and intuitive, with people who cannot look after themselves being considered more deserving than those who can. Deservingness with respect to different categories of kin – i.e. the ‘radius’ of responsibility for kin – varies less markedly, but with some variation between racial or cultural groups. Deservingness with respect to both public and private support is affected dramatically by the attitude and reciprocity of the claimant, with the important exceptions of mothers who should be supported unconditionally. Public and private support appear to be complements not substitutes for each other, in that people who believe that the state should support people in need are also more likely to believe that kin should do so also.