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Research programmes

The III currently supports six research programmes - Our Research Innovation Fund projects; the Poverty and Inequalities programme with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation; the IGA-Rockefeller Resilience project; the Art, inequality and social change project supported by the LSE Marshall Institute; the Ethnographic exploration of the socio-economic transformation of the Basque country in collaboration with the Agirre Lehendakaria (ALC) at the Basque University; and the research project Pulling Away? A social analysis of economic ‘elites’ in the UK, supported by the Sutton Trust

Research Innovation Fund projects

Since 2015, the III has been delighted to run competitions for LSE-based projects which would benefit from pump-priming support, and lead to larger externally funded projects in the future or other increased research activity in the School. Members of all departments and research centres are eligible to apply for these; we hope to hold a further competition in 2017. Those receiving support will be presenting their findings in future III seminars and/or in our working paper series.

Seven projects were successful and received funding in round one in 2015 for research taking place in the 2015-16 academic year (in some cases extending to 2016-17). Another seven projects received funding in round two (2016-17 academic year), as have seven additional projects in round three (2017-18 academic year).

Read about the different research projects here.

Improving the Evidence Base for Understanding the Links between Inequalities and Poverty 
Partnership with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

This research aims to review the relationship between inequalities of various kinds and poverty. It will investigate areas such as the consequences of living in an unequal society for the lives of those in poverty; how people's prospects of social mobility are affected if parental resources are unequally distributed between families; the links between poverty, inequality and geographical and neighbourhood segregation; how inequality affects risks of poverty for different groups, such as by ethnicity, gender, disability and migration status; and the political and attitudinal effects of inequality for support (or otherwise) for effective collective action against poverty. 

Find out more about the programme here.

Challenging urban decline narratives: enhancing community resilience
Supported by the LSE Institute for Global Affairs and the Rockefeller Foundation

The III has been awarded funding for the project "Challenging urban decline narratives: enhancing community resilience" through the IGA's "Research and Impact Seed Fund", supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. The goal of this project is to develop an innovative synthesis of both political economy and narrative approaches to resilience, and to use this to understand different urban areas in England. 

Read more about the project here.

Art, inequality and social change
Supported by the LSE Marshall Institute

This three-month project will consider the challenges to the art world, including public and private galleries, and museums, posed by intensifying social and economic inequalities. Contemporary art practices have sought to democratise artistic display over the past two decades, to limit the association with 'highbrow' culture to encourage diversity in artistic form, and to encourage a wider range of audiences to engage with art.

However, although democratising moves have been effective in several respects, there has been less attention to the way that the rise of the super-rich and the accumulation of wealth and capital might be an issue for artistic exploration and curation. Indeed, there is evidence that the contemporary art market is in fact dominated by the investment potential of art works for the super-rich, and hence becomes hooked into the arena of super-rich cultures which may affect the capacity of art to act as a critical public good. This is a matter of great public concern, especially as it could be associated with the renewal of cultural elitism to go alongside growing economic inequality.

To address this issue, the project will explore how the practices of curators and artists in a series of leading London galleries are aware of these challenges, and to bring to light their repertoires for relating to the challenge of accumulating inequality. A series of interviews will be conducted with curators of public and private art galleries, as well as with a number of artists exploring current social issues. This pilot project will take an important initial step which will prepare the way for a larger project, whilst also performing a much needed function in its own right.

Research Team

- Professor Nicola Lacey

- Georgia Nichols

- Professor Mike Savage

Ethnographic exploration of the socio-economic transformation of the Basque country
A collaboration with the Agirre Lehendakaria (ALC) at the Basque University

The III is collaborating with the ALC at the Basque University to carry out ethnographic interviews and contribute to the drafting of a report on the Basque case of socio-economic transformation.

Since the 1970s, the region has followed a very different development pattern compared to the rest of Europe, transforming from an impoverished area into a vibrant, successful region by embarking upon policies that privileged cooperative decison-making, community development, and crucially, large scale cooperatives and social enterprises. The motivation of this project is to understand the values, narratives and strategic decisions that have been taken in the Basque area by public and private institutions to build a socio-economic model that presents positive equality indicators combined with a competitive economy.

Research Team

- Dr Luna Glucksberg 

- Professor Mike Savage

Pulling Away? A social analysis of economic ‘elites’ in the UK
Supported by the Sutton Trust

This project will investigate whether British elites are pulling ahead, not just economically but also socially.  Economic research has demonstrated that the richest 1 per cent in terms of income in the UK have increased their relative advantage since the 1980s but we know less about whether their social mobility and self-identities are becoming more exclusive and hence whether there is a more general process of ‘elites pulling away’

Research Team

- Dr Sam Friedman 

- Dr Katharina Hecht (Researcher)

- Professor Mike Savage

Analysing the Success of Local Wealth Building in the United Kingdom

This project will attempt to grapple with the rise of inequalities by collecting and examining examples of communities that have successfully challenged the processes that funnel wealth up and away from them. Where and when, how and why, have groups been able to stand up against the systems and patterns that systematically extract wealth from local communities? How have they managed to reverse them? What can be learned from these examples? How do we apply those lessons in other locations, under different conditions? 

The project will bring together a review of documented practices that have successfully challenged neoliberal models of accumulation and dispossession, including co-operative models, local wealth building strategies, housing cooperatives and examples of UBI (Universal Basic Income). It will then develop four in-depth ethnographic case studies of examples of successful practices, of realities that have managed to successfully deviate, and challenge, the dominant narrative of wealth extraction.

Research Team

- Dr Luna Glucksberg 

- Professor Mike Savage

More information here