GV334      Half Unit
Comparative Perspectives on Inequality and Politics: Global North, Global South

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Catherine Boone


This course is available on the BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

The course is available in third year only and capped at one group of students.

Course content

Rising levels of social inequality have attracted enormous attention in public discourse and social science research.  What political consequences should we expect to see, and will these differ across countries? This course considers the distribution and drivers of different forms of social-economic inequality (income, spatial, urban/rural, ethnic/racial), and asks whether and how they produce different forms of politics in different parts of the world.  Weekly readings and lectures center on significant works in global and comparative political economy.  The course considers the hypothesis that the political salience of different forms of inequality (a.) varies over time and space, and (b.) that political institutions play an important role in conditioning the ways in which social inequalities become politically salient and find expression in the political arena.  

Over the course of the term, the analytic focus of the class moves from the global level, to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, to developing countries. We consider how socio-economic structure, levels of development, and modes of integration into the global economy shape domestic forms of inequality, and how domestic institutions condition the political expression thereof. 


25 hours of seminars in the LT.

This course is delivered through seminars totalling 25 hours in the Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of online and on-campus seminars. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

Formative coursework

There is no formative coursework.  The first summative assessment will be a short paper worth 20% of the final grade. 

Indicative reading

Mann, Michael, Riley, Dylan. 2006. “Explaining Macro-Regional Trends in Global Income  Inequalities, 1950–2000.” Socio-Economic Review 5(1):81–115.

Mike Savage, Class Analysis and Social Transformation (2000)

Arlie Russell Hochchild, Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the  American Right (New York: New Press, 2016)

Melissa Rogers, "Federalism and the Welfare State in Latin America", Regional and Federal Studies, 31:1, 2021: 163-184.

David Harvey. "The 'New' Imperialism: Accumulation by Dispossession." Socialist Register, 2004.

Alao, A. (2007). Natural Resources and Conflict in Africa: The Tragedy of Endowment. Rochester,  NY, USA; Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell & Brewer.

Biniam Bedasso. 2017. "For richer, for poorer:  Why ethnicity often trumps economic cleavages in Kenya." Review of African Political Economy, 44/151: 10-29.

Østby, G., NordÃ¥s, R. and Rød, J. 2009. "Regional Inequalities and Civil Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa." International Studies Quarterly, 53(2), pp.301-324.

Abubakar K. Monguno and Ibrahim Umara, "Why in Borno? The history, geography, and sociology of Islamic radicalization," Mustapha and Meagher, eds., Overcoming Boko Haram (2020). 64-92.

Charles Tilly, Durable Inequality (University of California press, 1998).


Essay (70%, 3000 words) in the ST.
Presentation (10%) and critical evaluation (20%) in the LT.

The summative work consists of:

  • one 3-page (1,000 word) paper summarizing and critiquing a week's reading, week 5-7 (20%),
  • class presentation outling the proposed research question and theoretical framing of the 12-page paper (10%), and 
  • a 12-page (3,000 word) final class paper assessing different arguments about inequality and whether and how it produces political effects in light of comparative case study or large-N evidence (70%)

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness