Vol. 1 No. 11 [Special Issue – August 2011]
The Welfare State, Social Capital and Alternative Politics: First Findings from Israel
Fany Yuval Department of Public Policy and Administration Faculty of Management, Ben-Gurion University Beer Sheva, Israel. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Shlomo Mizrahi Department of Public Policy andAdministration Faculty of Management, Ben-Gurion University Beer Sheva, Israel. Email: email@example.com Nissim Cohen Department of Management and Economics The Open University of Israel, The Dorothy de Rothschild Campus 1 University Road, P.O.B. 808, Raanana, 43107, Israel. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Introduction
This paper reports the main findings of an explorative study that attempts to connectthree variables: attitudes towards the welfare state, social capital and attitudes towards illegal channels for providing services (called here 'alternative politics'). It is part of an ongoing project that has already produced a report, based on an earlier survey, concerning the attitudes of the Israeli public towards the welfare state (Cohen, Mizrahi and Yuval, forthcoming). The current study isbased on a survey conducted during Spring 2010 among 507 Israeli citizens representative of the Jewish portion of the Israeli population. This paper will not explore the relationships between the variables mentioned above, but rather will describe the main descriptive statistics and also outline possible theoretical hypotheses.
Public Opinion about the Welfare State Therole of public opinion in the development of the modern welfare state has been studied from various angles. Brooks and Manza (2004) show the influence of public opinion in the United States on public policy in general and welfare policy in particular, and Manza and Cook (2002) demonstrate the relationship between public opinion and welfare policy in other countries. Bartels (1991) and Wlezien(1996) concentrate on attitudes towards defense expenses and foreign policy, while Jacobs (1992) explores the impact of public preferences and understandings on policy discussions among interest groups, bureaucrats, and politicians. Focusing on the formation of health services in Britain and America, Jacobs (1992) concludes that the general public exerts a powerful influence on detailed policy making.Burstein (2003) reviews publications published in major journals and systematically codes them to record the impact of public opinion on policy. He notes that the impact of public opinion is substantial and that salience enhances the impact of public opinion. This impact remains strong even when the activities of political organizations and elites are taken into account. Furthermore, Bursteinnotes that responsiveness appears not to have changed significantly over time, but cautions that the extent to which the conclusions can be generalized is limited. Social Capital The concept of social capital first arose in the literature during the 1960s, and since then, numerous scholars have written about its importance. Bourdieu (1986) argues that social capital is composed of a variety ofaccumulated resources, which can be transmitted to the next generation and which require deliberate economic and cultural investments. According to Coleman (1988), social capital is a feature of the structure of society, a kind of social good that emerges from reciprocal obligations and expectations, and expands to the group at large (Lin, 2001). Putnam defines social capital as the “connections amongindividuals-social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them’’ (2000: 19), “the features of social organization, such as networks, norms and social trust, that facilitate coordination and cooperation for mutual benefit” (Putnam, 1995: 67). 38
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