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
Carlotta Giustozzi

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

Claudia Traini

Specifically, I am interested on the effects of economic inequality on social mobility and the effect of the latter on attribution of economic success.

Clara Eul

I am interested in working in the project because research on the relationship between social inequality and social cohesion/ political participation informs and motivates policies that combat social inequality.

Simon Bienstman

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

Emir Zecovic

I am particularly interested in the steps involved in working with large and diverse datasets.


POLAR working paper #2

The POLAR working paper titled “Explaining the ‘Democratic Malaise’ in Unequal Societies: Inequality, External Efficacy and Political Trust” is now available for download on the publications page (or click here for direct download). We look forward to receiving you questions, comments or suggestions!

Keep reading

Join the POLAR team!

The POLAR project invites applications for two positions of a research fellow (m/f/d; pre- or post-doc). Both positions are available from July 1, 2022 until the end of project funding by March 31, 2025. See the job posting on the university website for more information.

Keep reading

POLAR presentation at the Politics & Society Workshop Series 2022 in Milan

Carlotta presented joint work with the POLAR team exploring how different dimensions of economic inequality affect political trust at the Politics & Society Workshop Series 2022 in Milan, Italy the 17th& 18th March this year. Thanks to the organizers for this wonderful workshop! For more info on the event see: https://www.soziopolis.de/fileadmin/Editorial/Calls/CfA_Individual_and_Contextual_Effects_10.1.2022.pdf

Keep reading

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…

Keep reading


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.