AIAS Lunch Seminar 3 oktober: Wout Scholten en Margo Trappenburg (AIAS)

Day: Thursday October 3th 2013
Time: 12.15 – 13.15 hrs.
Location: AIAS, 3rd floor, M building, Plantage Muidergracht 12, Amsterdam
Registration: Please send an email, preferably before Wednesday October 2th 12.00 to register.
A sandwich will then be provided

Who should earn what? A Q methodological study

Wout Scholten & Margo Trappenburg (AIAS)


An increasing attention in The Netherlands is paid to wages. High wages (and bonuses) have given rise to a heated public debate and ministers have requested public officials in education, healthcare and public television to give up part of their income. At the same time we have seen a general decrease in real income in the last couple of years (CBS, 2013). In times of crisis these two extremes seem to trigger new (or old) notions of justice. Indeed, new times might ask for new morals. But what are these morals? Do we and others deserve what we earn and why? We derived two different strands of thought from the literature; the first, inspired by political philosophy and mostly investigated in psychological experiments and vignette studies, usually found a robust consensus on wages and wages differences. A just society rewards according to merit and income differences should not be too high. The second strand of literature, mostly filled by political scientists and based on survey research suggests by contrast that opinions on wages and wage differences are bound to differ as respondents have different positions on the left-right divide. We tried to understand how these two different views on wage differences can be combined, using Q methodology. 35 participants were asked to sort 37 statements according to their opinion on aspects like the character of the work, views on high and low earners and the responsibility of the state, the organization and the individual. Interestingly, in our research resulting in three profiles of justice related attitudes toward wage differences (1: ‘compassion and complaint’, 2:‘merit and the market’ and 3:‘pure meritocracy) we found support for both positions in the literature.

Click here for all the AIAS lunch seminars from October-December 2013

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