Intergroup Relations, Social Connection, and Individual Well-being in Neoliberal Societies

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Title: Intergroup Relations, Social Connection, and Individual Well-being in Neoliberal Societies
Authors: Hartwich, Lea
ORCID of the author: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4244-4606
Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Julia C. Becker
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Christopher Cohrs
Abstract: Neoliberalism’s free market ideology has not only achieved hegemonic status as the dominant organizing principle of markets and economies the world over, its values and doctrines have also come to shape many other areas of contemporary life. The consequences of this takeover include rising inequality, a social policy shift away from welfare and toward personal responsibility, and the triumph of the economic rationale of profitability in the public sector as well as the private sphere. A growing body of research has studied the ramifications of individual facets of the neoliberal order, especially the expanding gap between the rich and poor, but to date, a more comprehensive understanding of how the underlying ideology molds societies is largely absent from the social psychological literature. This doctoral thesis seeks to take a first step toward closing this gap by identifying and investigating three key areas of interest in the context of neoliberalism’s influence on individual and collective life. Based on previous research and theorizing, it puts forward the idea that the neoliberal reorganization of societies along the principles of individualism, competition, materialism, and privatization has a profound impact on intergroup relations, social connection, and individual well-being. The studies presented here provide evidence that neoliberal ideology and policies erode social cohesion (Manuscript 2) and make people feel lonely and isolated (Manuscript 3). Confirming the importance of social factors in determining health outcomes, these developments are then shown to increase feelings of threat, hopelessness, and unhappiness (Manuscript 2) as well as reduce mental and physical well-being (Manuscript 3). Beyond the individual level, intergroup attitudes, especially with regard to socio-economic status groups, are of particular interest to this research. Its findings demonstrate that despite neoliberalism’s propagation of wealth and success as ultimate aspirations, the perceived breakdown of the social fabric and resulting discontent with neoliberal societies lead to negative perceptions of the elite who are seen as corrupt and immoral (Manuscript 2). They also provide support for the assumption that the belief in merit-based inequality, which is central to the neoliberal doctrine, is reflected in representations of individuals with lower socio-economic status who are assigned personal responsibility for their disadvantaged position and, unlike other underprivileged groups, are seen as lacking in moral deservingness by both conservatives and progressives (Manuscript 1). As a whole, the studies that constitute this thesis project bring together several different lines of research and make headway in developing an integrated perspective on the influence of neoliberal ideology on societies and the experiences and attitudes of the individuals within them.
URL: https://repositorium.ub.uni-osnabrueck.de/handle/urn:nbn:de:gbv:700-202007133264
Subject Keywords: Neoliberalism; Intergroup Relations; Classism; Anomie; Anti-Elitism; Social Inequality; Social Cure; Stereotyping; Social Class
Issue Date: 13-Jul-2020
License name: Attribution 3.0 Germany
License url: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB08 - E-Dissertationen

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