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

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Catherine Boone


This course is available on the BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in History and Politics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Data Science, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and History, BSc in Politics and International Relations, BSc in Politics and Philosophy and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

The course is available in the 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. 


This course is delivered through seminars totalling 25 hours in the Lent Term. There will be a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 presentation in the LT.

This will be a class presentation outlining the proposed research question and theoretical framing of the 3,000 word summative paper.

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 (80%, 3000 words) in the ST.
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%), 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 (80%)

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: 15

Average class size 2021/22: 15

Capped 2021/22: Yes (15)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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