Different understandings of welfare benefits among the Dutch public: A focus group study

Thijs Lindner*, Willem De Koster, Jeroen Van der Waal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Numerous studies have assessed the extent to which citizens support or oppose welfare benefits (shorthand: benefits). To properly understand this support or opposition, it is important to consider what benefits actually mean to citizens. Indeed, because citizens' understandings of benefits are likely to vary, there may be similar (different) levels of support for very different (similar) reasons. Consequently, in-depth insights into these understandings are required to properly grasp public attitudes on welfare benefits. Therefore, this study adopts an inductive approach, holding focus-group discussions with Dutch citizens with different social backgrounds (48 respondents/11 gatherings). Three distinct discourses were identified: (1) benefits as self-responsibility and reciprocity; (2) benefits as participation and solidarity; and (3) benefits as well-being and self-actualization. These diverging discourses each involve closely intertwined understandings of the function of benefits, their relationship to work and welfare deservingness. We discuss the relevance of our findings and make suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022


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