Building: VMP 5 Floor: 2 Room: 2197
During the past decade, several influential studies have identified increasing inequality as one of the most urgent risks in contemporary societies. Echoing this trend, it has even been argued that we are currently witnessing a formation of a new “inequality paradigm” in social science (Savage 2016). Such a multidisciplinary approach is particularly warranted since inequality is not limited to affluence but relates to areas such as housing, digital access, health, social connectedness, and subjective wellbeing and quality of life. Noteworthy, disparities in economic and social resources are directly reflected in participatory resources, i.e. an individual’s ability and motivation for political action.
The connection between inequality and politics is also strengthening at the macro level. A systematic evidence from the US and European context suggests that the interests of economically less well-off citizens are under-represented in decision-making processes. At the same time, many prominent economists are pointing out that there are ways to enhance social justice. The growing gap between rich and poor can be tackled by the means of progressive taxation and extensive redistribution if there is enough political will to implement such policies. These types of debates form the essence of which Hills and Savage (2015) recently referred as “the politics of inequality”. Electoral engineering and democratic innovations, such citizens’ initiative, deliberative mini-publics, participatory budgeting, crowdsourcing and empowering dialogue, may also function as concrete tools to compensate inequalities in political engament and representation.