Income and social inequality have increased notably across many advanced democracies in recent decades. Despite much academic research into both the determinants of this increase and its impact on voting and policy preferences, there are systematic gaps in our understanding of the relationship between socio-economic inequalities and political behavior. Several questions remain partially understudied.

  • First, how accurately are inequalities actually perceived by people and what factors shape these perceptions?
  • Second, how does economic and social inequality affect not only policy preferences on redistribution and welfare states, but also more general political attitudes? In turn, how do attitudinal changes translate into electoral behavior?
  • Third, how labor market inequalities translate into rising income differences and changes in popular attitudes?
  • Lastly, how do changes on the demand- and the supply-side of different party systems interact and influence the relationship between inequality and voting?

The answers to these questions were sought by researchers working on issues of inequality and political behavior, who took part in a workshop held at Nullfield College (University of Oxford) on June 5.

During the workshop, researchers treated Poland as a reference for studies of Western Europe and the US, as Poland after 2015 has been regarded as one of the primary cases of democratic backsliding which went along with a sudden turn in its post-transition political economy. While focusing on specific cases, the researchers intended to highlight the use of panel datasets in studying social, economic and political inequalities. The workshop featured presentations that used the following studies: German Socio-Economic Panel Study, Understanding Society: UK Household Longitudinal Study, National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979: Children and Young Adults (US), The Polish Panel Survey (POLPAN), and Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social sciences (LISS) Data.


David Rueda, Nuffield College, University of Oxford
Marcin Ślarzyński, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IFiS PAN), Nuffield College associate member

The workshop was co-organized by the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences and receives organizational support from the project “Structures and Futures: The Polish Panel Survey, 1988-2023” (NCN Poland, 2022/45/B/HS6/04090).

Workshop program