The social division of welfare knowledge

Policy stratification and perceptions of welfare reform in Australia

Shaun Wilson*, Kerstin Hermes, Gabrielle Meagher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


During its period in office (1996-2007), the Liberal-National coalition government increased stratification in the Australian welfare system by differentiating the norms and instruments applied to claimants groups. This article explores whether Australians accurately registered these developments by comparing voter assessments of policy generosity to different groups with an objective assessment of the direction of policy change. We find that voters were more likely to have recognised increased generosity to the middle class, and to have underestimated the tougher policies faced by some groups at the bottom of the socioeconomic scale. Their misrecognition of hardship raises broader questions for the political sociology of the welfare state.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-346
Number of pages24
JournalPolicy and politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


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