Is Subsidiarity a Recognisable Tool for Social Justice? Lessons from Public Attitudes

Stream: Panel 82 - Australian Politics / Media & Politics: Australian Sub-national Politics 
Date: Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Time: 11.00 am – 12.30 pm


The principle of subsidiarity, which emphasises decentralism and community support, is regarded as ‘a normative principle of justice that refers to individuals as well as institutions’ (Gosepath 2005: 161). It is widely argued that localised decision-making can combat or minimise the effects of many social injustices by facilitating responsive, efficient and innovative government. But to what extent are these potential benefits recognised by those affected? And does this translate to greater attachment to the principle? This paper undertakes an international comparison of public attitudes towards subsidiarity, making use of data from the Australian Constitutional Values Surveys (2008-2016), and parallel international investigations. In particular, it examines whether support for the principle is higher amongst individuals from key sub-groups that arguably stand to benefit from subsidiarity. This investigation has important implications for the way subsidiarity is understood and used in reform debates, in Australia and internationally.


Jacob Deem (Presenter), Griffith University
Jacob is a PhD candidate at Griffith University's Centre for Governance and Public Policy. He has a keen interest in federalism and issues of multi-level governance. Jacob's research focuses on the 'principle of subsidiarity', and in particular investigates whether public attitudes of citizens in Australia, Germany, Canada and the UK explain variations in subsidiarity's realisation in those countries.