Political Dimensions of Inequality

Inequality has political consequences. Inequality has political causes. Although the investigation of inequality is highly relevant within the social sciences, the correlations between inequality and political processes have for the most part remained in the blind spot of research endeavours.

Research on inequality has been carried out in a well-established field in the social sciences, but existing research has neglected the political causes and consequences of inequality.
Dr Marius Busemeyer, Professor of Political Science

The research focus on the “Political Dimensions of Inequality” will address this research gap. At the centre of analysis is the cycle consisting of perception of political inequality, political mobilisation and legislation, which leads to the following three core areas of research:

  • Perception and preferences: Under which conditions is a specific type of resource distribution considered to be unequal? How do these perceptions influence political preferences?
  • Political participation and mobilisation: When do perceptions and preferences lead to political participation and mobilisation and when do they suppress them?
  • Legislation and institutions: How do policy makers then react to public demands and political mobilisation that are driven by perceptions of inequality? How do the resulting policies, in turn, affect public opinion?

Different scientific disciplines have only investigated the individual components of this cycle of perception, participation and policy-making. What is lacking is research that investigates the entire circular process and its inherent reciprocal interactions. In order to understand the cycle in its entirety, the research initiative is launching an interdisciplinary collaboration between political science, economics, sociology and empirical educational research.