Comfort in numbers? Social integration and political participation among disability benefit recipients in Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionEuropean Journal of Social Security. 2014, 16 (4), 290-307.
There are growing concerns both in academic and political debates that the provision of cash transfers to people in economically active age groups does not support and might even undermine active social citizenship. In this article we study the social integration and political participation of disability benefit recipients in Norway. We anticipate that disability benefit recipients are less likely than others to participate in social and political arenas, but postulate that the degree of their social and political marginalisation depends on contextual factors. In particular we expect that the presence of a large proportion of disability benefit recipients in the local area where the individual disability benefit recipient lives will make it less likely that they will be marginalised in terms of social networks; we anticipate that this positive network effect will also spill over into participation in voluntary organisations and the propensity to vote in national elections. Analysing Norwegian survey-data, we find that disability benefit recipients are somewhat marginalised both socially and in terms of participation in voluntary organisations. In municipalities with a high proportion of disability benefit recipients, individuals belonging to this group are more likely to have close friends, but this beneficial contextual effect is not found to spill over into increased organisational and political participation.