A Sense of Inequality

Online via Zoom, at 14:00-15:30 (UTC+3h, Finnish local time)

Dr Wendy Bottero currently works in the Department of Sociology in the School of Social Sciences, at the University of Manchester. Her research interests focus on social hierarchies, and how inequalities are wound through our social connections and personal ties. She explores these concepts from three different angles within her work: using the patterning of social ties to map hierarchies; thinking about how social ties and interaction can help us to theorize hierarchy and inequality; and exploring how our web of social connections affects the visibility of inequality. Wendy Bottero is the author of ‘A Sense of Inequality’ (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019) which extends her work theorizing the subjectivities of inequality. She is also the author of ‘Stratification: Social Division and Inequality’ (Routledge, 2005), which offers an exciting perspective on differentiation and inequality, by investigating how our most personal choices are influenced by hierarchy and social difference.

Please register for this talk via E-form by Tuesday, June 8.

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Abstract: In this talk Wendy Bottero discusses a key argument from her book, 'A Sense of Inequality' (2019). The book brings together a range of different literatures in order to better understand what provokes a sense of inequality. Bottero argues that we must locate people’s knowledge, beliefs and values about inequality within a more situated understanding of their practical engagements and concerns. One difficulty is that many analysts’ main interest in subjective inequality rests in how people’s understandings affect their consent or challenge to relations of inequality.  This question is an important one, but we must first analyse people’s understandings of inequality on their own terms, locating them within their ordinary practical concerns and contexts of activity, and emerging as part of their struggles to resolve their problems of experience.

Discussant: TBC

Moderator: Meri Kulmala, INEQ Director

NB! The talk has been postponed from May 5 to May 11.

Why No Economic Democracy in Sweden? A Counterfactual Approach

Online via Zoom, at 14:00-15:30 (UTC+3h, Finnish local time)

Bo Rothstein holds the August Röhss Chair in Political Science at the University of Gothenburg and is the co-founder of The Quality of Government (QoG) Institute, an independent research institute within the Department of Political Science. He served as professor of government and public policy and professorial fellow of Nuffield College at the University of Oxford in 2016 and 2017 and has been a visiting fellow at Cornell University, Harvard University and Stanford University.

Quality of political institutions, welfare politics, and corruption have been at the forefront of Rothstein's research. His main publications include 'Just Institutions Matter: The Moral and Political Logic of the Universal Welfare' (Cambridge University Press, 1998), 'The Quality of Government: The Political Logic of Corruption, Inequality and Social Trust' (University of Chicago Press, 2011), 'Making Sense of Corruption' (together with Aiysha Varraich; Cambridge University Press, 2017), and 'Controlling Corruption: The Social Contract Approach' (Oxford University Press, 2021). Rothstein is also a prolific contributor to the public debate and an advocate for academic freedom.

Please register for this talk via E-form by Sunday, May 9.

Zoom link will be sent ONLY to registered participants.

Abstract: Companies that are owned and/or governed by their employees, through a co-operative, a stock-option plan or an employee trust, have been studied empirically for almost four decades. The results show that such companies perform on average better and have higher productivity than firms that are governed by outside capitalists/owners/investors and they pay somewhat higher wages. In addition, they have far less turnover of personnel and employees are more satisfied with their working conditions. In many cases, such companies make a very significant contribution to decreasing economic inequality because, in addition to their higher salaries, employees also benefit from the capital in the company, usually in the form of substantially higher pensions. People working in such firms tend to be more pro-democratic and civic oriented.

Given these many positive results, this talk poses a counterfactual question: why has economic democracy, in the form of employee-owned and/or governed companies, not been on the political agenda in Sweden? There are many reasons why we should have seen such companies mushrooming in Sweden, given its strong labour movement and Social Democratic party, yet the country has comparatively few. Three explanations are presented: the organisational interest of the trade unions in organisational learning, the conflation by the political left of capitalism and markets and the political debacle of the ‘wage-earner funds’ policy.

Discussant: TBC

Moderator: INEQ Associate Professor of Contemporary History Johanna Rainio-Niemi

Inequality, Stagnation, Financialization and the Global South

Online via Zoom, at 14:00-15:30 (UTC+3h, Finnish local time)

Dr. Yılmaz Akyüz was the Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies and Chief Economist at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) when he retired in August 2003. He also served as the chief economist of the South Centre, an Intergovernmental Think Tank of the Developing Countries, between June 2009 and August 2018. Yilmaz Akyüz taught at various universities in Europe before joining UNCTAD in 1984 and after his retirement. He has published several articles and books in macroeconomics, finance, growth and development, including 'Playing With Fire' (Oxford University Press, 2017). Dr Akyüz is second holder of the Tun Ismail Ali International Chair in Monetary and Financial Economics at the University of Malaya.

Please register for this talk via E-form by Monday, April 19.

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Abstract: Inequality is not only a social but also a macroeconomic problem. The secular decline in the share of wages in national income, the increased concentration of wealth and growing financialization are among the central causes of slowdown in accumulation and growth in major advanced economies. Attempts to overcome stagnation by creating credit and asset bubbles through ultra-easy money and financial deregulation have not only added to inequality and financialization, aggravated the demand gap and reduced potential growth, but also entailed significant repercussions for emerging economies. They have generated exceptionally favourable global financial conditions for them and an unprecedented surge in capital inflows in a search-for-yield in high-risk, high-return assets, accelerating their integration into international finance and deepening their linkages with mature markets. These have increased their vulnerability to external financial shocks and led to significant resource transfers to advanced economies through financial channels.

This talk is organized in collaboration with The Helsinki Centre for Global Political Economy (Helsinki-GPE).

Discussant: Professor Heikki Patomäki (UH), Political Science

Moderator: Meri Kulmala, INEQ Director

Capitalism, Alone

Online via Zoom, at 18:00-19:30 (UTC+3h, Finnish local time)

Branko Milanovic is one of the world’s leading economists of inequality. He is a Presidential Professor at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and a senior scholar at the Stone Center on Socio-economic Inequality. He served as lead economist in the World Bank’s Research Department for almost 20 years, leaving to write his book on global income inequality, 'Worlds Apart' (2005).  Milanovic also served as a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington (2003-2005).

Branko Milanovic is best known for a breakthrough study of global income inequality from 1988 to 2008, approximately spanning the period from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the global financial crisis. His main area of work involves income inequality, in both individual countries and globally, including in pre-industrial societies. His research interests include global inequality, globalization, history of inequality and macroeconomy. Milanovic has published numerous articles on the empirics and methodology of global income distribution and the effects of globalization.

Please register for this talk via E-form by Thursday, April 8.

Zoom link will be sent ONLY to registered participants.

Abstract: The talk, based on Milanovic's recent book 'Capitalism, Alone' (2019), will discuss and analyze systemic inequalities in liberal capitalist societies with the special emphasis on the phenomenon of homoploutia, that is, of high incomes from both labor and capital received by the same persons. Homoploutia is one of key defining characteristics of modern capitalism, distinguishing it from its classical version. It is a desirable development because it reduces class-based distinctions, but it also encourages the formation of an elite that is more stable (thanks to its diversification of assets, including skills) and able to transfer these advantages across generations.

Twitter @BrankoMilan 

Blog globalinequality

Discussant: Professor Teivo Teivainen (UH), World Politics

Moderator: Meri Kulmala, INEQ Director

Relations of Extraction, Relations of Redistribution: Empire, Nation, and the Construction of the British Welfare State

Online via Zoom, at 12:00-13:30 (UTC+2h, Finnish local time )

Gurminder K Bhambra is a Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies in the Department of International Relations in the School of Global Studies, at the University of Sussex. While her research interests are primarily in the area of postcolonial and global historical sociology, she is also interested in the intersection of the social sciences more generally with recent work in postcolonial and decolonial studies. Her current projects are on epistemological justice and reparations and on the political economy of race and colonialism. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, elected 2020.

She is author of 'Connected Sociologies' (Bloomsbury, 2014) and the award-winning 'Rethinking Modernity: Postcolonialism and the Sociological Imagination' (Palgrave, 2007). She is a co-author of the forthcoming book, 'Colonialism and Modern Social Theory' (Polity, 2021). She set up the Global Social Theory website (globalsocialtheory.org) and is co-editor of the social research magazine, Discover Society (discoversociety.org).

Registration has closed!

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Abstract: The consolidation of the British welfare state in the mid-twentieth century did not only coincide with the systematic dismantling of the British empire but was significantly shaped by the empire that preceded it. The story that tends to be told about the welfare state, however, situates it firmly within the national context. Such understandings go on to shape contemporary political debates centered on questions of entitlement and concerns over legitimacy. In this presentation, I reassess the standard accounts of taxation and welfare that are claimed to be central to the construction of the nation to demonstrate how taking the empire into account offers the possibility of a different political response to the challenges we are faced with today.

Twitter @gkbhambra


Discussant: Professor Teivo Teivainen (UH), World Politics

Moderator: Meri Kulmala, INEQ Director

Developing Age-friendly Communities with Older People as Co-researchers: An Inclusivity-Exclusivity Perspective

Online via Zoom, at 12.00–13.30 (Finnish local time, UTC+2h)

Dr. Tine Buffel is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Manchester, where she directs the Manchester Urban Ageing Research Group (MUARG). Her research career has been distinguished by a commitment to working with community partnerships to study and address equity and social justice issues. Building on a background of innovative participatory and co-production methodologies with older people, she has been particularly interested in studying questions relating to neighbourhood and community life in later life, social inequality and exclusion, urban deprivation and developing ‘age-friendly’ environments.

Registration has closed!

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Abstract: This presentation provides a critical review of some of the key questions and underlying assumptions that surround the participation of older people in research. This theme is addressed through a study which involved older people as co-researchers in developing age-friendly communities in Manchester, UK. Through the application of a participatory methodology, older people were involved not only as the research target group, but also as experts and actors in the various stages of the research, including the planning, design and realization of the project. This presentation reflects on both opportunities and challenges associated with the involvement of older people as co-researchers, and discusses the potential of the research approach for developing community networks and empowerment on the one hand, and the risks for increasing exclusion and creating new forms of disempowerment on the other. The discussion considers the implications of the findings for developing age-friendly communities in complex urban environments.

Discussant: Hanna-Kaisa Hoppania, PhD, Researcher at Ikäinstituutti (Age Institute)

Moderator: Meri Kulmala, INEQ Research Coordinator

Family Di­versity in the Dual-earner Model

Online via Zoom, at 10–11.00 (Finnish local time, UTC+2h)

As­so­ci­ate Pro­fessor Rense Nieuwen­huis (SOFI, Stock­holm University) will address vertical and horizontal aspects of economic inequality from the comparative perspective of the income distribution of various household types within the context of dual-earner family model. The guest talk is part of INEQ’s “Inequality Talks”, a new series of online lectures addressing a wide range of issues related to inequality.

Registration has closed!

Zoom link will be sent ONLY to registered participants.

Abstract: Ongoing debates about high and rising inequality largely ignore aspects of gender and family diversity. The rise of women’s earnings, in part supported by the dual-earner / dual caregiver model, is known to have reduce income inequality between households – at least when it comes to couples. In this presentation, Rense Nieuwenhuis will provide a brief introduction to his project on integrating vertical and horizontal aspects of economic inequality. He will then examine what the impact of the rise of the dual-earner family model has been on the position in the income distribution of various household types – including relative income position of single adults, single parents and ‘breadwinner couples’.

Using pooled cross-sectional data from the LIS Database, that allows following a large number of OECD countries over a long period of time, this study tests two contrasting hypotheses. The competition hypothesis reads that the rise of dual-earner households poses an insurmountable competition for a position in the income distribution to single earners (single adults, single parents and single-earner couples), thus increasing the sorting of household types across the income distribution. The spillover hypothesis is based on the notion that the rise of the dual-earner model represents an adaptation of society to the changing economic roles of women. The rise of the dual-earner/dual caregiver model of family policy (e.g. work-family reconciliation policies), decreasing the size of the gender pay gap, and longer work histories before becoming single (parent) contribute to the economic position of singles – and in particular single mothers. Understood this way, the rise of the dual-earner model, may be expected to have strengthened the economic position of those who need it the most – households with only a single earner – thus integrating various household types across the income distribution.

Nieuwenhuis is an associate professor in sociology at the Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI) at Stockholm University, and examines how family diversity and social policy affect poverty and economic inequality. Typically, his research is country-comparative and has a gender perspective. His recent focus was on single-parent families, how women’s earnings affect inequality between households, and family policy outcomes. He has published in journals such as Journal of Marriage and Family, European Sociological Review, Acta Sociologica, and Review of Income and Wealth. Recently, he co-edited the book ‘The triple bind of single-parent families’ and he is currently co-editing the ‘Palgrave Handbook of Family Policy’. Occasionally, he acts as independent expert doing commissioned work on gender equality for organisations such as UN Women, the European Commission, and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).


Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Social Media

Online via Zoom, at 11–12 (Finnish local time, UTC+2h)

Philip Howard is a Professor of Internet Studies and the Director of Oxford Internet Institute. Professor Howard  will be discussing his new book 'Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives' (2020). The guest talk is part of INEQ’s “Inequality Talks”, a new series of online lectures addressing a wide range of issues related to inequality.

Registration has closed!

Zoom link will be sent ONLY to registered participants.

Abstract: Artificially intelligent fake accounts attack politicians and public figures on social media. Conspiracy theorists publish junk news sites to promote their outlandish beliefs. Campaigners create fake dating profiles to attract young voters. We live in a world of technologies that misdirect our attention, poison our political conversations, and jeopardize our democracies. Big data from the social media firms, combined with interviews with internet trolls, bot writers and political operatives, demonstrates how misinformation gets produced, distributed and marketed. Ultimately, understanding how all the components work together is vital to dismantling such “lie machines” and strengthening democracy.



Some ideas about where inequality research is heading

Online via Zoom, at 10–11 (Finnish local time, UTC+3h)

Professor Danny Dorling will share his ideas about future directions and prospects of inequality research in INEQ’s “Inequality Talks”, a new series of online lectures addressing a wide range of issues related to inequality.

His talk builds on his upcoming book Finntopia, co-authored with Annika Koljonen, which addresses inequality relevant issues such as education and health. Dorling’s work on social inequality more widely focuses on the questions of housing, health, employment, education and poverty in Britain, for example. 

Registration has closed. Zoom link will be sent ONLY to registered participants. 

Abstract: The talk is based on evidence collected together in a new book called Finntopia, however the talk is mostly not about Finland. I am interested in Inequality and just how harmful and widespread its effects may be. For instance, does growing up in a very unequal society at a very unequal time make political leaders more likely to be less able and also the electorate more amenable to vote such political leaders into power? It is well known that Finland ranks higher on more global indicators of well-being than any other country in the world, so why is this so assiduously ignored by some of the most unequal societies both in Europe and world-wide? For people based in the UK or USA it can often appear that Finland leads to world in many ways in terms of both concern and action of the environment. But within Finland there are many critics of government and corporate action on the environment. So is the forefront of new research on inequality within those places that are most equal, that have to work out what they do next, or is it where the evidence of the harms of inequality is most easy to measure and see? And finally, what do the huge geographic differences in the experience of and reactions to the 2020 pandemic tell us about the wider importance of inequality on health and government that we did not know before? Is the whole world at an inequality peak, as only the rich countries of the world last were a century ago?

[CANCELLED! We are look­ing for a new time]

Hu­man Costs of In­equal­ity – Evic­tions in Amer­ica

Think Corner (Stage) at 17–19

INEQ will host Professor Matthew Desmond, the author of the New York Times bestselling book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. Evictions in American cities used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing. Eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. Professor Matthew Desmond’s talk takes us into neighborhoods where people have fallen behind. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality—and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Desmond’s acclaimed book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016) draws on years of embedded fieldwork. He also talks about the he work of Eviction Lab (Princeton university) which published the first-ever dataset of millions of evictions in America, going back to 2000, aiming to inform programs to prevent eviction and family homelessness, raise awareness of the centrality of housing insecurity in the lives of low-income families, and deepen our understanding of the fundamental drivers of poverty in America.


Gender Equal­ity Poli­cy­mak­ing in Non-Demo­cra­cies

Porth­ania (P545) at 10–12

Over the last decade, non-democratic regimes have been passing legislation that at least superficially addresses gender inequality, especially targeting violence against women. The cross-national studies of gender equality policymaking, especially on issues such as violence against women which require significant change in policy and practice, show that strong, autonomous feminist movements are the decisive factor, while in non-democratic regimes, informal links between women’s movements and key actors also crucial. This presentation will explore these gender-related policy dynamics through the tracing of three policymaking processes on domestic violence over the last decade: a 2013-16 attempt to pass comprehensive domestic violence reform, the criminalization of domestic violence in 2016, and the partial de-criminalization in 2017. These insights will be used to consider the current attempt to pass yet another domestic violence law that began last fall.

Janet Elise Johnson is Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, USA, and FRIAS Senior Fellow/Marie Curie Fellow of the European Union at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Freiburg, Germany. Her books include The Gender of Informal Politics (2018), Gender Violence in Russia (2009), and Living Gender after Communism (2007), with The Routledge International Handbook to Gender in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia (edited with Katalin Fábián and Mara Lazda) forthcoming in 2021.

The event is hosted by INEQ together with Development of Russian Law program and Aleksanteri Institute.