The just world hypothesis as an argumentative resource in debates about unemployment benefits
The concept of the “just world” is established as a key explanation for how people make sense of inequality so that those deemed to score high in belief in a just world are more likely to hold prejudicial beliefs and to blame people in poverty for their situations. However, this is an inadequate explanation for such complicated and controversial issues. To better understand talk about the just world and the controversial issue of the distribution of unemployment benefits (an issue of inequality), a discursive psychological approach to the just world is used. Therefore, a discourse analysis focusses on 2 feature length British televised discussions about benefit claimants called “The Big Benefit Row: Live” (Channel 5 3/2/2014) and “Benefits Britain: the Debate” (Channel 4 17/2/2014). The analysis demonstrates that people draw on both just and unjust world arguments simultaneously and also topicalise what counts as just so as to support their positions on unemployment benefits, rather than in the consistent way that just world theory would predict. It is therefore argued that the just world should be recast as a cultural value that facilitates arguments about benefits, rather than an internally held belief.
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Citation : Goodman, S., Carr, P. (2017) The just world hypothesis as an argumentative resource in debates about unemployment benefits. Journal of Community Applied Social Psychology, 27(4), pp. 312-323.
ISSN : 1052-9284
Peer Reviewed : Yes