The Structural Determinants of Americans' Justice Perceptions Toward Inequality in the Us

by Corinne Ong

Institution: University of North Texas
Year: 2012
Keywords: Socioeconomic inequality; social justice; intergenerational occupational mobility; underdog principle; social class
Record ID: 1937493
Full text PDF: http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc177237/


In accordance with structural theory and distributive justice theory, this study investigates if Americans' personal encounters with the opportunity structure and their existing reward conditions will influence their perceptions toward distribution outcomes in the U.S. I argue that higher-status individuals possessing various "attributes of structural privilege" will exhibit less support for regulating income inequality in society than lower-status individuals. Upward mobility should also be negatively related to support for restoring greater equality in allocation outcomes. However, the effect of mobility on justice perceptions should vary by class status, since class has been known to be a reliable predictor of these attitudes. The study employed a sample of 438 American adults from the GSS 2000 dataset, and ordinary least squares (OLS) regression was applied in the analyses of the data. Two of the three above hypotheses received partial confirmation, that is, there were class, race, and gender differences in distributive justice perceptions. Class also interacted significantly with occupational mobility in altering distributive justice perceptions.