Home / Research / Cluster 5 / Theme 7

Inequalities and Democracy (POLGAP & POLINE)

Contact Sciences Po for this project

Nonna Mayer
Sciences Po
Centre d¿études européennes
27, rue Saint Guillaume
75337 Paris cedex 07
Phone: + 33 1 45 49 77 33

Sciences Po

Equality is at the heart of the democratic ideal. Yet, in most democracies today social inequalities are either persisting, as in France, or are on the rise, as in the United States. And even when inequalities are not increasing, the feeling that they are too important is a predominant concern of Western populations. What are the political consequences of this paradox? The objective within this research priority is to consider inequalities as not just a matter of income and wealth, but also linked to gender, age, ethnicity and residence, since economic inequalities are increasingly intertwined with these factors.

Furthermore, understanding the subjective and objective side of these inequalities enables us to study the link between inequalities and discrimination, and underlines the importance of how inequalities are perceived, by the individual and by society. The emphasis is systematically on the political dimensions of inequalities, where political refers both to the impact of social inequalities on political preferences and behaviour, and to the actions taken to govern inequalities. Projects within this area can focus on the feedback between politics and policies; the effects of inequalities; the flaws in the measurement and treatment of different social categories; or other related topics.

POLINE : The POLitics of INEqualities
Projects under this theme are being taken up within the POLINE network. The network POLINE rests on a team of some 30 French scholars, belonging to 5 laboratories of Sciences Po. A partnership is being settled first with the networks on inequalities developed by the universities of Oxford, Harvard and Princeton. It is bound to open up later to Asian universities (Korea, Japan, China and India) and Southern States such as Brazil. It¿s a pluridisciplinary network bringing together economists, sociologists, political scientists. It proposes an integrated comparative research and teaching programme, around 6 issues. The 3 first are a preliminary basis: How can one conceptualise inequalities (justice/injustice, fairness, equality of opportunities)? Where do they come from? How does one measure them? The 3 next are the heart of the project: How are inequalities perceived and felt, tolerated or resented? How do they translate in the political sphere (turn out, vote choice, protest)? How can one deal with them (existing and possible public policies, particularly social policies and ¿affirmative action¿ in the employment and education sector)?
© 2009 - 2011 RISE Network