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Perceptions of the extent and causes of inequalities are vitally important to the functioning of societies, economies and politics. If the public thinks that inequalities are large – and, crucially, that they are unfair – this can undermine faith in political and economic systems as a whole.
Public perceptions of and attitudes towards these inequalities have important real-world implications. There is plenty of evidence that people’s concerns about inequalities in society can spill over into the political sphere – movements such as Occupy, the gilets jaunes in France and Black Lives Matter have all given voice to the concerns of those who feel disadvantaged or marginalised in society. The election of populist leaders in many advanced economies may also in part reflect frustrations about inequalities.
This research identifies three distinct groups within the population that emerged from a survey of responses to questions about structural and individual causes of inequalities, fairness and perceptions of inequalities in the United Kingdom.