Capitalism, Democracy and Inequality: The Crisis of Market Liberalism in Wealthy Democracies

  • Summer schools
  • Department of Government
  • Application code SS-IR102
  • Starting 2020
  • Short course: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

UPDATE: Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic we will no longer be offering this course in summer 2020. Please check our latest news on this situation here.

Democracy and capitalism have had a complex and often conflictual relationship, shown recently in political upheaval amid the lingering aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008. Market liberalism appears increasingly inadequate as a formula for managing tensions between capitalism’s necessary inequality and democracy’s characteristic demand for redistribution.

This course offers a comprehensive introduction to how these tensions have developed in the rich market economies of the world (especially North America and Europe). We will investigate why some are more unequal than others, and how they have responded to the economic and political crises of the early 21st century. Key areas of enquiry include the distribution of income and wealth, the politics of taxation, public spending and welfare, the role of voting and elections, the politics of money, banking and financial crisis, and the rise of populism and political instability. No background in economics is required.

Session: Two
Dates: 13 July – 31 July 2020
Lecturers: Dr Jonathan Hopkin and Dr David Woodruff
Prerequisites: None


Programme details

Key facts

Level: 100 level. Read more information on levels in our FAQs

Fees:  Please see Fees and payments

Lectures: 36 hours 

Classes: 18 hours

Assessment*: One examination and one essay

Typical credit**: 3-4 credits (US) 7.5 ECTS points (EU)

*Assessment is optional

**You will need to check with your home institution

For more information on exams and credit, read Teaching and assessment



Programme structure

  • Government and the Market in the Advanced Nations
  • Capital, Labour and Economic Growth
  • The Keynesian Model and the Politics of Demand
  • Central Banking and Democracy
  • The Politics and Economics of Market Bubbles and the Crisis of 2008 
  • Reforming the Welfare State
  • The Rise of Inequality
  • The Politics and Economics of Market Bubbles
  • The Credit Crunch and the Politics of Austerity
  • Responses to Crisis: Capitalism versus Democracy?

Course outcomes

The course presents key concepts and theories of comparative political economy, and uses them to compare institutions, policies and outcomes across countries and over time, and how they affect growth and income inequality. Key areas of enquiry include the distribution of income and wealth, the politics of taxation, public spending and welfare, the role of voting and elections, the politics of money, banking and financial crisis, and the rise of populism and political instability. Students will acquire a solid understanding of the basics of monetary and fiscal policy.


LSE’s Department of Government is home to some of the most internationally respected experts in politics and government, producing influential research that has a global impact on policy. The Department has always been able to take advantage of its prominent position within the London School of Economics and Political Science, the largest and most important European institution specialising solely in the social sciences. The Department has a strongly cosmopolitan character and alumni can be found in the world's leading political science departments, as well as in journalism, commerce, central and local government, and non-governmental organisations globally.

The 2014 Research Assessment Exercise ranked the LSE Government and International Relations Departments' joint submission first in the UK for the percentage of its research graded world leading or internationally excellent (88%). LSE also came top in the Politics and International Studies REF panel in terms of the most research publications graded “world leading” (4*); the absolute number of top-rated research outputs. LSE’s Department of Government ranked 5th in the world in the 2018 QS World University ranking for Politics and International Studies.

On this three-week intensive programme, you will engage with and learn from full-time lecturers from the LSE’s government faculty.

Reading materials

Esping-Andersen, Goesta (1990). Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity.

Hall, Peter and David Soskice (eds.) (2001). Varieties of Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Glyn, Andrew (2006). Capitalism Unleashed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Crouch, Colin (2011). The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism. Cambridge: Polity.

Blyth, Mark (2013). Austerity. The History of a Dangerous Idea. New York: Oxford University Press.

Piketty, Thomas (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Cambridge MA: Belknapp

*A more detailed reading list will be supplied prior to the start of the programme

**Course content, faculty and dates may be subject to change without prior notice

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