This article examines the relationship between social justice norms and the perceived legitimacy of the social stratification system in the Czech Republic. Despite the fact that meritocratic values have remained the dominant part of ideology in the Czech Republic throughout the transformation process, those values have played only a very minor role in fostering evaluations of system legitimacy, such as perceptions of system closure and widespread inequality. This article argues that perceived corruption is the key factor that negatively mediates the relationship between norms of distributive justice and beliefs about social legitimacy, and ultimately plays a major role in reducing the legitimacy of the social stratification system. The main analysis uses a structural equation model based on Czech data from the ISSP Role of Government Survey in 2006. The evidence lends support to the path dependency view of the social transformation process, according to which rampant corruption, which was a core legacy of the market transformation process, continues to shape system legitimacy even in the face of relative economic prosperity of the mid 2000s.

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