chapter  5
40 Pages

Distributive Justice

ByJames R. Kluegel, Eliot R. Smith

In this chapter, the authors examine the American public's beliefs about the aspects of distributive justice; in the national survey they asked many questions concerning beliefs about income inequality. They use data from a survey of Illinois residents conducted in 1979 to examine beliefs about certain aspects of income inequality not directly covered in the national survey. Equity relative to individual merit, however, is but one aspect of economic justice. Justice also involves the evaluation of equity relative to the collectivity. The relatively higher levels of support for need compared to strict equality may be due in part to a perceived conflict between equality and need. It appears that many people oppose the justice of strict equality on grounds that families do not have equal need; some have more children than others, some must cope with greater health-related problems.