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


Prof. Dr. Markus Gangl

Much of my research is about understanding the processes that generate economic inequality, whether in the labor market, within families or through (lack of) public redistribution. In POLAR, I am interested in finding out whether and where rising inequality really matters, and also what may be done to keep the fabric of our societies intact.

Dr. Carlotta Giustozzi

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

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

I am interested in understanding how people experience economic inequality and how these experiences are entangled with experiencing other socio-economic changes of post-industrial societies.

Clara Eul

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

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


Interview in “UniReport”

For the University’s UniReport Carlotta Giustozzi spoke with Dirk Frank about her dissertation on labour market marginalisation and social integration. The Interview can be found here.

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New team members

We welcome Dr. Claudia Traini and Sven Ehmes as new POLAR team members. Dr. Claudia Traini joined our team in October 2022 as a postdoctoral researcher and Sven Ehmes in November 2022…

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Peter A. Berger Dissertation Price

This September Carlotta Giustozzi won the Peter A. Berger Price issued by the DGS-Section ‘Social inequality and social structure’ for the best dissertation of the past two years together with Katharina Kunißen.…

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New publication

Carlotta Giustozzi’s dissertation Social Consequences of Labour Market Marginalisation in Germany is now published with Budrich Academic Press.

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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.