How to explain the perception of social inequalities in France?

Working paper in french

This article aims to test three explanatory theories of the perception of social inequalities, on the basis of a quantitative survey, completed by qualitative interviews. We will examine the theory of “in the best interests” linked to social position, the theory of the possible effect of relative deprivation mechanisms and the theory of values in terms of social justice. The results show contrasting effects of the different explanatory variables according to the perception level of inequality. Social status as well as relative deprivation mechanisms explain the personally felt impact, whereas they have practically no effect on the wider perception of social inequalities. On the other hand the perception of inequalities in society is associated, whatever the subject’s social status, with principles of justice. It is not the position of individuals in the system of social stratification that informs their perception of inequalities, but rather principles that are largely independent of their social status.

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