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Inequalities Seminar Series

About the series

The Inequalities Seminar Series at the International Inequalities Institute is a venue for scholars from LSE and beyond to present their innovative work on social and economic inequality. The series builds on the recently renewed interest of the social sciences for issues of income and wealth inequality. It is also a place for exploring fresh perspectives on the various structural and cultural processes that underlie the formation of inequality broadly defined.

The series is co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology and organized by Dr Fabien Accominotti and Dr Aaron Reeves. It is part funded through Prof Mike Savage's ESRC professorial fellowship funds.

All talks are held on Tuesdays from 12.30-1.45pm in Tower 2, 9th Floor, Room 9.05. Buffet lunch will be served at 12pm. The seminars are open and free to all. 

Upcoming seminars

Joan Costa-i-Font

Inequalities Seminar: Health and Income Inequality Aversion: results from a UK survey experiment

Tues, 25th April, 12.30-1.45pm, TW2 9.05

Speaker: Dr Joan Costa-i-Font (LSE Social Policy and European Institute)

More details coming soon.

Lisa Mckenzie

Inequalities Seminar: Post-Industrialisation in the East Midlands: ethnographic narratives from the communities that were thrown under the Brexit bus

Tuesday 2nd May, TW2 9.05, 12.30-1.45pm

Following a 4 month ethnographic study in the mining towns of the East Midlands funded by the International Inequalities Institute, Lisa Mckenzie will for the first time introduce the narratives and the images of those that since ‘Brexit’ have been described  as the ‘left behind’. This rhetoric of ‘the stupid’ ‘the ignorant’ and the ‘racist’ when speaking about in particular ‘the white working class’ has sharpened since the June 2016 European Referendum, when large parts of the de-industrialised north and midlands voted to ‘leave’. 

Lisa Mckenzie's research took her back to the places where she grew up and the communities that overwhelmingly voted to leave the EU. Lisa found their reasons were varied and broad. This part of the UK was decimated during the 1980s and 1990s, they were proud places and people where the men kept ‘the lights on’ with their labour down the ‘pits’. While the women’s labour ensured the good people of middle England had nice well-fitting Marks and Spencer undies. These communities were heavily industrialised and filled with skilled manual labour jobs for both men and women. They became wiped clean through de-industrialisation and void of work and investment for decades. In the last ten years, particularly since the 2008 banking crash new industries have opened in warehouse and distribution work, payday loan companies, and slum land lording. The ground since de-industrialisation has become fertile for systems of exploitation. Migrant workers from Eastern Europe have been recruited into the area to work and to live in these exploitative industries. 

This seminar will use the voices, images and the landscape of the de-industrialised midlands to tell the narrative not of the ‘left behind’ but of a proud people, that were thrown under the Brexit bus. 


Inequalities Seminar: Intersecting inequalities and the Sustainable Development Goals: insights from Brazil

Tuesday 9th May, TW2 9.05, 12.30-1.45pm

Speaker: Professor Naila Kabeer (LSE Gender Institute and Department of International Development)

This talk will use national data from Brazil to explore how groups at the intersection of race, class, gender and spatial inequalities fared in relation to indicators of poverty, labor market engagement and well-being that have been highlighted by the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.  The analysis covers the period 2004 to 2013 when income inequality was declining in Brazil.  It therefore allows us to investigate how socially marginalized groups in the country  experienced this overall decline in inequality and to explore some of the explanations as to why and how. 


Previous seminars

Addressing recognition gaps: destigmatization processes and the making of inequality

Speaker: Professor Michèle Lamont (Harvard University) 

Tues 7th March, TW2 9.05, 12.30-1.45pm

This talk brought together three lines of research focused on destigmatization processes (as they pertain to African Americans, people with HIV-AIDs, and the obese); cultural processes feeding into inequality; and recognition gaps experienced by white working-class men in the United States and France, and stigmatized groups in Brazil, Israel, and the United States. From these studies, Michèle Lamont proposed an agenda for the empirical analysis of recognition, which she views as an essential but largely missing dimension to the study of inequality.

Download video / watch below:


Older peoples' experiences of dignity and nutritional support during hospital stays

Speaker: Dr Polly Vizard (LSE CASE)

Tues 21st Feb, TW2 9.05, 12.30-1.45pm

Concern about older people's experiences of healthcare has moved up the political and public policy agendas in the wake of the Independent and Public Inquiries into Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. However, quantitative analysis of the available patient experience data remains limited and the statistical evidence base on inequalities even more so. In this talk, Dr Polly Vizard presented findings from a new study that provides in-depth nationally representative quantitative evidence on older people’s experiences of poor and inconsistent standards of treatment with dignity and respect, and support with eating, during hospital stays using the Adult Inpatient Survey. The study highlights how older age interacts with gender and disability as a driver of inpatient experience, considers the role of socio-economic disadvantage, and makes specific recommendations on how to build inequalities analysis into national frameworks for healthcare monitoring, inspection and regulation.

Polly Vizard is an Associate Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, London School of Economics. The study “Older peoples experiences of dignity and nutritional support during hospital stays” is co-authored with Dr Tania Burchardt of CASE and LSE Social Policy. The project was originally funded by ESRC and subsequently through  a follow up small grant from the International Inequalities Institute.

Download video / watch below:


Regional Inequality and Preferences for Market-Promoting Land Law Reform: Kenya Pilot Study

Speaker: Professor Catherine Boone (LSE Departments of Government and International Development)

Tues 31st Jan, TW2. 9.05, 12.30-1.45pm

This seminar was based on a project that, leveraging the results of an III-supported pilot project on land law reform in Kenya since 2013, seeks to understand the effects of spatial (regional) inequalities on political struggles over the commodification of land in African countries. Catherine Boone frames the problem of land law reform as one of redistributive politics in territorially-fragmented polities and develops an analytic strategy that draws upon research on the politics of social entitlements in developed and developing countries.

Download podcast / listen below:


Catherine Boone seminar

Who are the Global Top 1%?

Speaker: Dr Paul Segal (Senior Lecturer in Economics at Kings College London, Visiting Fellow at the III)

Tues 17th Jan, TW2. 9.05, 12.30-1.45pm 

This seminar presented findings from the paper with the same title, representing the first in-depth analysis of the changing composition of the global rich and the rising representation of developing countries at the top of the global distribution. The authors construct global distributions of income between 1988 and 2012 based on both household surveys and the new top incomes data derived from tax records, in order to capture the rich who are typically excluded from household surveys. They find that the representation of developing countries in the global top 1% declined until about 2002, but that since 2005 it has risen significantly. This coincides with a salient decline in global inequality since 2005, according to a range of measures. The authors compare their estimates of the country-composition and income levels of the global rich with a number of other sources – including Credit Suisse’s estimates of global wealth, the Forbes World Billionaires List, attendees of the World Economic Forum, and estimates of top executives’ salaries. To varying degrees, all show a rise in the representation of the developing world in the ranks of the global elite.

Paul Segal is a Visiting Fellow at the LSE III and Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Department of International Development, King's College London. He has written on global inequality and poverty, where he pioneered the use of the new top incomes data in analysing the global distribution of income. He has also written on the economics of resource revenues and their potential role in inequality and poverty reduction. He is currently working on the determinants of inequality and wages in Mexico since 1800, and on the political economy of income distribution in Argentina over the 20th century. For 2017 he is on a Leverhulme Research Fellowship working on new approaches to economic inequality.

Download Video / Watch Below:


Support for Redistribution: preferences for reducing economic inequality in the US and Sweden

Speaker: Prof Leslie McCall (Northwestern University)

Tues 29th Nov, TW2, 9.04, 12.15-13.30

In contrast to studies of the multiple determinants and implications of inequality, research into the potential array of solutions to the problem of inequality is narrower in scope. There are two main strands: the study of tax and social policies (social redistribution) and pay-compression policies that address inequalities in the labour market (market redistribution). The attitudinal literature is narrower still, focusing only on support for social redistribution. Prof Leslie McCall will present an expanded definition of preferences for redistribution that includes the second category and new questions on the GSS and ISSP that permit a careful comparison of support for the two kinds of policies in the United States and Sweden. Among Americans, it is found that support for redistribution increases from under 50 percent for the traditional definition to two-thirds for the expanded definition and that Swedes and Americans have nearly identical levels of support for market redistribution. The empirical evidence is inconsistent with key tenets of American exceptionalism and points toward the theoretical importance of incorporating market inequalities into discussions of the politics of inequality and redistribution. 

Leslie McCall is Professor of Sociology and Political Science, and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University. She studies public opinion about inequality and related economic and policy issues as well as trends in actual earnings and family income inequality. She is the author of The Undeserving Rich: American Beliefs about Inequality, Opportunity, and Redistribution (2013) and Complex Inequality: Gender, Class, and Race in the New Economy (2001).

Leslie McCall seminar

The Strength of Weak Performance:  a relational theory of executive pay

Speaker:  Prof Thomas A. DiPrete (Columbia)

Tues 8th Nov, TW2 9.05, 12.15-13.45

Using the most comprehensive data on executive compensation peer groups yet analysed, Thomas DiPrete demonstrated that compensation peer groups tend to be biased upwards, and showed how the pattern of bias arises through the relational structure underlying benchmarking processes.  He provided evidence that compensation peer group bias produces higher levels of executive compensation.

Thomas A. DiPrete is Giddings Professor of Sociology, co-director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University, and a faculty member of the Columbia Population Research Center. His current interests focus on social inequality as it unfolds over the life course.

Thomas DiPrete


The Organizational Production of Earnings Inequalities

Speaker: Prof Donald Tomaskovic-Devey (UMASS)

Tues 25th Oct, TW2, 9.04, 12.15-13.45


Organisations raise capital, hire, produce, sell and distribute surplus, generating the initial distributions of income from which all other income inequalities follow. But what drives workplace inequality levels and trends? In this presentation, Donald Tomaskovic-Devey will introduce the idea of organisations as income distribution devices, followed by a broad descriptive analysis of workplace earnings inequalities levels and trends from the early 1990s to the present for ten countries. The key lesson is that inequality levels and trends vary greatly between institutional contexts. He will follow with a more in-depth, casual analysis of what drives within and between workplace earnings inequalities in Germany.

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey studies the processes that generate workplace inequality. He has projects on the impact of financialization upon U.S. income distribution, workplace desegregation and equal opportunity, network models of labor market structure, and relational inequality as a theoretical and empirical project. His long-term agenda is to work with others to move the social science of inequality to a more fully relational and organizational stance.

Download Video  Slides (pdf) / Watch below:


Top Incomes and the Gender Divide

Speakers: Prof Alessandra Casarico (Bocconi) and Dr Sarah Voitchovsky (University of Melbourne)

Tues 27th September, TW2 9.05, 12.15-13.45

In the recent research on top incomes, there has been little discussion of gender. How many of the top 1 and 10% are women? A great deal is known about gender differentials in earnings, but how far does this carry over into the distribution of total incomes, bringing self-employment and capital income into the picture? In this seminar, Prof Alessandra Casarico and Dr Sarah Voitchovsky presented their investigation of the gender divide at the top of the income distribution using tax record data for a sample of 8 countries with individual taxation. Read the corresponding Working Paper here.

Sarah Voitchovsky