The Politics of Welfare in Transition: Gender or Back to Class?

Document Type


Journal/Book Title

International Journal of Sociology

Publication Date






First Page


Last Page



How is the transition from state socialism to market capitalism reshaping political attitudes toward the state in Central and Eastern Europe? Several scholars of the transition have observed a conservative cultural turn in mass politics, suggesting a possible decline of class and gender as meaningful organizing principles for political activity. However, recent empirical analyses of the formation of political attitudes and political activity during the transition suggest that class and gender remain significant predictors of attitudes regarding the responsibility of politicians and welfare state institutions. Our analyses, based on data from the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), involve political attitudes toward the state in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, Bulgaria, and Russia. We find that class matters in various ways in different countries. However, results also demonstrate a clear cross-national pattern: those made most economically vulnerable by the transition to market capitalism are more likely to support a strong role for the state in redistributing resources and guaranteeing a basic standard of living, and the best educated throughout the region reveal the weakest support for these policies. Gender remains a central and salient status, as anticipated, with regard to the state's roles and responsibilities in providing various guarantees carrying over from the state socialist period. Understanding these relationships advances our knowledge of processes of democratic transition, leading to appropriate specification of the impacts of economic, political, and social changes on the formation of political cleavages.

This document is currently not available here.