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Legitimising a radical policy idea: framing basic income as a boost to labour market activity

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The idea of universal and unconditional basic income is gaining increasing traction worldwide. Yet the proposal of unconditional cash seems to run counter to some key normative assumptions in society. This article contributes to an understanding of the political feasibility of basic income from the perspective of framing strategies to legitimise the policy. It examines a framing commonly used by Finnish parties and politicians advocating basic income, that emphasised basic income’s capacity to boost activity and labour market participation. The article finds that basic income was often defended with framing that appealed to activity as a value, and that this framing was most actively pushed by the Greens, and adopted by other parties during the upturns of the debate. The article provides an insight into a strategy of legitimising a politically controversial idea by framing it in a normatively and ideologically resonant way.
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Keywords: Finland; agenda setting; basic income; framing; ideas; ideology; legitimacy; value amplification

Affiliations: Tampere University, Finland

Appeared or available online: December 18, 2019

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