Combating Inequality - International Research Project

Increasing economic and social inequality is one of the key features of the radical globalisation project that emerged in the 1970s, generating levels of inequality incompatible with social inclusion, equal opportunities and fairness. In a situation characterised by a severe financial and economic crisis, rising unemployment and reduced social expenditure are deepening the social divide in many societies. The Great Recession across the global north in 2009, followed by a very weak recovery (and in some cases a double dip), has hit the most disadvantaged social groups hardest. At the global level, GDP growth has also slowed down.

The ‘combating inequality’ project explores the causes of economic and social inequality, charts its development since the early 1990s, assesses countermeasures, works out strategies for their implementation, and identifies supportive social forces. It examines whether inequality in the national and the international context is undermining democracy and economic stability; and whether it is blocking individual and collective advancement as well as the creation of employment. The project is global in outlook and forms part of the Global Labour University. It builds in particular on the expertise of the GLU partner institutions in Brazil, Germany, India and South Africa: The University of Campinas, the Berlin School of Economics and Law, the University of Kassel, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai (and other Indian cities) and the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

The project is divided into six thematic areas:

  • labour markets, employment and distribution
  • financial markets
  • redistributive policies
  • conceptions of a ‘socially and environmentally sustainable economy’
  • countermeasures to inequality and attempts to change the current model of globalisation
  • campaign and implementation strategies of trade unions and civil society at large

Research in the six areas is mainly carried out by drawing upon recent publications and statistics as well as building on the studies carried out within the GLU network. A gender mainstreaming strategy will ensure that the research conducted is gender-sensitive or at least gender-neutral.

Contributors to the project are producing articles that will be published as GLU working papers. Furthermore, there is going to be a GLU alumni report discussing the equality agenda of trade unions around the world. The research conducted will feed into a comprehensive report on how to combat economic inequality. This report will be presented at the GLU conference in May 2014 in Berlin and the International Labour Conference in June 2014 in Geneva. In addition, there will be an edited volume presenting key findings of the project, which will compile selected papers and case studies. This will be published in 2015.

For more information, please visit the project website.

The project is funded by the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung.