Sigrún Ólafsdóttir

Sigrún Ólafsdóttir, Associate Professor of Sociology at Boston University

Research profile:

The project examines the experience of social inequality in Iceland and how this experience is related to various indicators of well-being. In the first phase of the projected (completed), we collected nationally representative, face-to-face survey data in Iceland during the winter 2009-2010. In the second phase (current phase, 2011-2012) we focus on two aspects. First, we aim to describe the public’s perception of and attitudes toward key dimensions of social inequality in Iceland, including level of inequality, the nature of opportunity, the form of the class structure, etc. Second, we will examine how perceptions of inequality influence well-being. Specifically, building on sociological and social-psychological themes, including reference group theory, classical sociological theory, and political economy, we focus on how well-being is affected by objective position (e.g. income, assets, education), subjective position (reference group comparisons), social mobility (person’s social status relative to parents), and perception of inequality, class, and social meritocracy in the society. Well-being is measured by several indicators such as anger-frustration, depression, subjective health, and subjective status injustice. In the final phase of the project (to be completed in 2012-2013), we will incorporate comparable survey data from other countries to examine the public’s perception of inequality in Iceland in comparison to over 20 other nations.

Project partners: Jón Gunnar Bernburg, Professor of Sociology, Faculty of the Human and Social Sciences, University of Iceland.

Research field and areas: Political Sociology, Economic sociology, Attitudes and Values

Keywords: Social inequality, well-being, class, societal attitudes, health, social mobility

Presentations and Publications