Polarization and its Discontents

Does rising economic inequality undermine the foundations of liberal societies?

Economic inequality has been on the rise in almost all Western societies for the last decades. What is much less clear, however, is whether this trend is spelling societal problems, and when, to which extent and in what respects rising inequality may affect the nature of our societies. As hallmarks of liberal society, we specifically investigate to which extent rising inequality may be interfering with societies’ capabilities to allocate positions according to merit and talent, to engage in cooperative social relations, and to decide on political matters through fair and transparent democratic processes.

We invite you to browse and explore our website to learn more about the project and the team – and we hope that you may occasionally revisit to check for any updates or new publications that will be disseminated through this website in the future.

Thank you for your interest in our work!

Markus Gangl & the whole POLAR team


economic inequality
support for democracy


Markus Gangl
Svenja Hense

I am curious to see how people adapt their political attitudes to rising inequality.

Simon Bienstman

I am interested in the pathways and mechanisms through which inequality affects our societies.

Carlotta Giustozzi

I am interested in how welfare states shape the consequences of income inequality for social cohesion.

Elisa Ebertz

As a student assistant, I am particularly interested in how to work together on a long-term research project.


Conference season is keeping team POLAR busy

The team will be present at the General Conference of the Academy for Sociology and at the ESCR Annual conference. The programs can be found if you click on the link. Markus Gangl will alo provide a keynote at the ESCR conference. In addition, Svenja Hense presented a paper on the policy preferences of classes…

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Upcoming Talk at the 15th ESA Conference 2021

On September 3rd, Carlotta Giustozzi will give a presentation with the title “Beyond financial strain: Explaining the relationship of unemployment and civic participation through values and social identity” at the 15th ESA virtual Conference, Barcelona. She will present findings from her dissertation project on the effects of unemployment on civic participation in Germany with SOEP…

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Successful PhD defense

On July 13, Carlotta Giustozzi very successfully defended her PhD thesis. The thesis looks at the social consequences of cumulated labor market marginalisation and was supervised by Markus Gangl and Patrick Sachweh. Huge congratulations, Carlotta, from everyone else at Team POLAR!

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We gratefully acknowledge the generous funding of the European Research Council for this project (Grant Agreement No. 833196). The research of the POLAR project would not be possible without the ERC’s support.