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PII: Populism, Inequality and Institutions

By contrast to the politically-dominant view that populism is primarily a consequence of immigration, PII investigates the argument that the underlying driver is lifetime shifts in economic inequality, caused by on-going economic transformation through technological change and import competition. Our fundamental hypotheses are that the underlying dynamics of long-term economic structural transformation display similar patterns of change across advanced European countries. However, the pattern of populist attitudes may differ across countries, depending on how such long-term change can be mediated through institutions, education, retraining and upgrading; and how the effect of populist attitudes on politics is magnified via the configuration of electoral and party institutions. We address these hypotheses in comparative analysis combining theory with unique administrative and life-course data, combining insights from economics and political science. Research examining these hypotheses should have a major impact on rethinking education and training strategies and on how labour markets work.

Organised in three thematic sections, PII contributes to Theme 2 of the call by studying early adult transitions into upper secondary or tertiary education, re-training and vocational training and how these help counteracting on-going economic shocks; to 3 by analysing the precise (and separate) consequences of technological change and globalisation on labour market and long-term career trajectories of workers, retraining frameworks, and changing economic status; to 4 by linking institutionally-mediated lifetime inequality dynamics resulting from technological change and globalisation with populist attitudes.

Research team

Prof. D.W. Soskice
London School of Economics

Prof. A.C.T. Björklund
Stockholm University

Prof. U. Schoenberg
University College Londen

Dr H. Finseraas
Institute for Social Research