The different forms of the sense of responsibility in contemporary mentality : an empirical study
The aim of this article is to report on common conceptions of civil responsibility in the mentality of today. It is based on a representative sample of data for an urban adult population (N = 604, Geneva and Zurich – Switzerland, 1997). Although the global tendency shows a systematic need for protection of the individual, the empirical study also makes apparent four different « philosophies » with each one having its own particular characteristics. Providentialism with a wide freedom of action and a minimum number of obligations, liberalism with both the autonomy of willpower and marked affirmation of individual responsibility, communitarianism where a compromise between the need to protect individuals and a limitation of their freedom by state regulation is promoted, and interventionism, concerned with order and efficiency, legitimizing both a strict conception of responsibility and a restrictive vision of individual rights. To conclude, the distribution of these different types is examined according to the identity, resources and social origins of those interviewed.