Sociologist dr. Jonathan Mijs of the Erasmus University Rotterdam has been awarded 250.000 euro in funding from a Veni grant through the NWO (Dutch Research Council) for his project on the social origins and pliability of popular beliefs about inequality.
From Julius Caesar's self-described decisive victory over the Gauls to David’s ingenuity in defeating Goliath, Western culture is rife with stories of individual accomplishment. We celebrate leaders in business, science and sports, and attribute their success to extraordinary talents and efforts. Looking at inequality through the lens of hard work and ingenuity implies a meritocratic worldview where people get what they deserve, or deservingly miss out.
More inequality, less concerns
As the concentration of income and wealth has reached levels not seen since the 1930s Great Depression, there is little evidence of growing public consternation. In fact, across the west, greater levels of inequality have gone hand-in-hand with lower levels of concerns and a strengthening of popular belief in meritocracy. Dr. Mijs’ project is a comparative investigation of The Netherlands and the US into this disconnect between reality and perception of inequality. The comparison yields an insight into how national contexts shape inequality beliefs and their pliability: are people in high-inequality settings more or less likely to reconsider their beliefs after learning the facts? The project combines insights from innovative qualitative and experimental methods to elucidate why people respond differently to the same factual information.
About Jonathan Mijs
Dr. Jonathan Mijs earned his Ph.D. in Sociology at Harvard University in 2017. Before coming to the Erasmus University Rotterdam, he taught at Harvard University and held a post as Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the London School of Economics' International Inequalities Institute. At the Erasmus University, dr. Mijs is part of the Department of Public Administration and of the Erasmus Initiative on Vital Cities and Citizens. Furthermore, he is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow.