Neoliberalism and work-related risks: Individual or collective responsibilization?

P. Mascini*, P. Achterberg, D. Houtman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Based on a representative sample of the Dutch population (N=2467), we test four hypotheses about how utilitarian individualism influences the responsibilization of work-related risks (i.e. the risk of dropping out of work because of unemployment, disability, or sickness). The risk society hypothesis understands utilitarian individualism as a laissez-faire ideological orientation and assumes it to lead to individual responsibilization. The blame culture hypothesis conceives utilitarian individualists as consumer citizens and predicts the reverse - that those concerned expect to be protected by the government. The resentment hypothesis assumes that particularly utilitarian individualists with a vulnerable labor-market position individualize responsibility, because they distrust those who share their fate more than others do. The narcissism hypothesis reverses this logic, because it assumes that utilitarian individualists' narcissistic self-centeredness entices them to make others responsible for their own risks. The two hypotheses predicting an individualization of work-related risk due to utilitarian individualism are both confirmed, whereas the two hypotheses predicting it to result in their collectivization are both rejected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1209-1224
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Risk Research
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • culture of blame
  • utilitarian individualism
  • work-related risks


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