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Social Justice Research


Springer Verlag

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Abstract/ Summary

In July 2012, the Australian government instituted the Clean Energy Legislative Package. This policy, commonly known as the carbon policy or carbon tax, holds industries responsible for emissions they release through a carbon price. Because this will have an indirect effect on consumer costs, the policy also includes a compensation package for households indirectly impacted. This study, building upon past work in distributive justice, examines the determinants of the policy’s acceptance and support. We proposed perceived fairness and effectiveness of the policy, and endorsement of free-market ideology, would directly predict policy acceptance. We tested this through an on-line survey of Australian citizens and found that policy acceptance was predicted by perceived fairness and effectiveness. More Australians found the policy acceptable (43 %) than unacceptable (36 %), and many found it neither acceptable nor unacceptable (21 %). In contrast, when asked about support, more Australians tended not to support the policy (53 %) than support it (47 %). Support was predicted by main effects for perceived fairness, effectiveness, free-market ideology, and the interaction between free-market ideology and effectiveness. We conclude by considering some of the implications of our results for the implementation of policies addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation, for theories of social justice and attitudinal ambivalence, and for the continuing integration of research between economics and psychology. Furthermore, we argue for the distinction between policy support and acceptance and discourage the interchangeable use of these terms.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Dreyer, S.J. & Walker, I. Soc Just Res (2013) Acceptance and Support of the Australian Carbon Policy, 26: 343.

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013




post-print (i.e. final draft post-refereeing with all author corrections and edits)

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In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted.