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PUEB research projects

Solidarity, Welfare Attitudes and Deservingness Patterns in Polish Society after Introduction of ''Family 500+'' program

Source of funding: National Science Centre, Poland
Funding Scheme: SONATA 14
Project ID number: UMO-2018/31/B/HS5/01707
Start date: 31.10.2019
Finish date: 30.10.2022
Amount of funding: 452 200 zł

General description:
In today's welfare states, there is a strong desire to eliminate "free riders" - that is, a situation when a person benefits from welfare state, and at the same time does not contribute to the broadly understood welfare of society. In this context, the key to social relations, understanding the concept of social citizenship or the construction of the welfare state, are answers to questions about how we understand: reciprocity, responsibility for others, justice etc. By combining entitlements with benefits in respect of society, we will not avoid evaluate the people who receive support. Consciously or unconsciously a person makes an assessment; it distinguishes between people who deserve and those who do not deserved to be helped. 

The "Family 500+" program introduced in 2016 brought significant changes in the functioning of Polish families. In 2018, it was used by 3.7 million children, and many others lived in families receiving benefits. In the public debate and in scientific studies, much attention was paid to the effects that the program may have on: women's labour market activity, state budget, the financial situation of families with children, poverty level, political support for the government and, finally, changes in the demographic situation in Poland. So far, however, scientists have not studied the impact of the Family 500+ program on the attitudes of Poles. It is justified to expect that the social attitudes towards the welfare state, social solidarity or the assessment of the deserving of social benefits; have changed since the introduction of 500+. So far, there is also a lack of reflection on what is widely discussed in the media, namely on the dissemination and strengthening of entitlement attitudes among Poles. 

In this project, we try to answer a number of questions regarding attitudes towards the welfare state and its beneficiaries. We believe that the project will contribute to the development of knowledge about social relations and, in particular, social solidarity, exploring the mechanisms of shaping attitudes or threats to the future of welfare state. Although in literature there are often reflections on how social attitudes may influence the process of shaping the policy of the state, and vice versa; how the solutions adopted in the policy may affect the assessments made by individuals; these are not often empirically verified. An additional justification for undertaking research on attitudes towards the welfare state and its beneficiaries in Poland is the fact that there is a lack of in-depth analysis of attitudes towards the welfare state, beneficiaries of benefits and assessment of their merit for support in this country. It is worth emphasizing here that the uniqueness and scope of changes that have taken place in recent years in Poland make our country particularly interesting. A strong justification for the undertaken research is also the introduction of the largest family benefits program since 1990. Because of its universality and the extremely lively public debate that accompanied its introduction, the "Family 500+" program on one hand could have influenced the perception of the welfare state, reciprocity, solidarity or rights and obligations of citizens by the Poles; on the other hand, the program could empower the entitlement attitudes, evaluation of deservingness, or perception of welfare beneficiaries. In addition, as in other countries, the welfare state in Poland faces a number of emerging challenges; an aging population, populism, political radicalism, changes in the functioning of families, migrations, the growing need for social investment, social inequalities, etc.; which is an additional argument for undertaking the proposed study
Principal Investigator:
dr hab.  Piotr Michoń, prof. UEP
Department of Labour and Social Policy


Justyna Przybylska - doctoral student at BUEB

Anna Żabińska