The fundamental goal of the seminar is to analyze economic inequality and its political consequences. In the context of crisis, austerity pressure, persistent unemployment and raising precarious employment, inequality has become one of the key challenges post-industrial societies have to meet in terms of economic efficiency, distributive justice and social stability. At the same time, these inequalities have stark political implications: Individuals at the top and at the bottom as well as those inside and outside the labor market have different political preferences and political views. Yet, their preferences are not equally weighted in the political process, which causes concern about the quality of democracy. We study inequality and its political ramifications in three steps. First we study structure, development and form of inequality in a cross-national and longitudinal perspective. We then study how inequality affects policy preferences and political behavior. Finally, we study the nexus between inequality, political representation and policy outcomes.
Part I: Inequality – new and old forms
Part II: The political implication of inequality
Part III: Economic inequality, political representation and policy outcomes
The themes are taught by combining lectures, discussion of readings, case studies and studentpresentations. This seminar offers an overview of the ways in which social science can help us understand why certain countries have developed deeply divided labor markets while other countries provide a more egalitarian distribution of labor market risk and how this matters for the quality of representational democracy. More specifically, we study the economic and political origins of inequality and its consequences on political preferences, elections and political representation. Through reading, seminar participation and also the empirical work on the seminar’s topic, students will develop the relevant analytical skills to understand the relationships affecting economic inequality, individual preferences, political and economic institutions, and democracy.
Memos and policy papers are designed to enhance the students’ ability to research topics in a concise and timely manner using a variety of resources, to effectively present material in written and oral formats and to work in teams. Sessions will typically combine short introductions or lectures, student presentations and discussions of core issues based on prior mandatory readings. Students will be asked to write short memos and produce a policy paper.
This course is for 2nd year MIA and MPP students only.
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