Weatherhead Research Cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion

Weatherhead Research Cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion Website  ]

Advanced industrial societies are increasingly characterized by two accentuated trends: growing inequality and multiple recognition gaps. The poor, workers, immigrants, Muslims, LGBTQs, and other marginalized groups experience stigmatization, and some of these groups claim recognition. This double tension serves as a fruitful point of entry for future multidisciplinary inquiries into the institutional and cultural conditions fostering collective well-being.

A major challenge for contemporary societies is to extend cultural membership to the greatest number. Thus, we need to gain a better understanding of the social and cultural processes behind recognition gaps. How can social scientists and policy makers better respond and help make societies more inclusive?

Examining such questions through a global and international lens is the focus of the Research Cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion. How can we best measure and understand the stigmatization of the poor in the United States if we don’t consider their treatment in other societies? How can we understand the impact of neoliberalism and human rights claims on recognition if we don’t consider them through a transnational and comparative framework?

Finding responses to the timely questions related to inequality and recognition gaps requires drawing on expertise from many disciplines. Our research cluster connects with a broad range of WCFIA affiliates and colleagues across several departments to collaborate in workshops, conferences, and research projects.

Some of the intellectual challenges ahead include:

  • Documenting growing inequality and recognition gaps, including contradictory trends in different parts of the world.
  • Understanding and explaining how various groups—the poor, the middle class, ethno-racial and religious minorities, LGBTQ, and others—experience these changes.
  • Determining the role of cultural repertoires and institutions (including the law) in attenuating the impact of social exclusion.
  • Identifying what is missing in the literatures on these interrelated topics and developing new perspectives on the study of comparative inequality.
  • Brainstorming the various ways in which scholars from different fields could collaborate to advance the study of comparative inequality and social inclusion.

In 2018–2019, the research cluster continues to develop a network of faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars working on questions of immigration, social inclusion, and diversity in Europe, North America, and beyond. The focus is primarily on advanced industrial societies, but we compare trends in the Global South as well.

Events this year include a conference on “Changing Middle Classes: Comparative and Global Perspectives” on September 21–22, a faculty workshop on October 19, and a joint workshop for 2017–18 and 2018–19 cluster affiliates on November 9; all in addition to monthly meetings where workshop members and outside speakers present their work.

The Weatherhead Research Cluster on Comparative Inequality and Inclusion is chaired by Professor Michèle Lamont.

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