What is POLINE?

The POLINE network

The POLINE network has been launched in order to lead Sciences Po Research project on « Inequalities and Democracy ». This international network gathers more than thirty researchers belonging to over six departments at Sciences Po which used to work separately on various aspects of inequalities. The « politics of inequalities » is a topical and strategic issue. No program of the kind exists in France, and the French case is particularly interesting as it is so different from the US, combining a rather stable structure of inequalities with a strong and rising feeling of injustice, and an ideologically tinted debate. Sciences Po appears as the most qualified institution to launch such a program.

The POLINE network relies on several tools:

  • An international seminar « Politics and Inequalities » exists since March 2009 at Sciences Po. It has held eight sessions and confronts the different approaches towards inequalities. It enables to widely invite scientists working on our research axis’ thematics.
  • A « junior seminar» that associates Oxford and Sciences Po gathers each year Ph.D. and post-doctoral students working on these topics. Thelatest junior seminar was held on May 25-26, 2011.
  • Other seminars, notably international conferences, among which two where held in Paris (the latest took place on May 26-28, 2011) and another in Oxford to which POLINE was associated on June 24-26, 2011.

Research Questions

The program addresses six questions:

  • How can one conceptualise inequalities today, in reference with the notions of justice, equity, fairness, and public interest?
  • How can one measure their level and their dynamics, elaborate reliable indicators?
  • How are inequalities perceived, evaluated, accepted or resented?
  • What are their causes, where do they originate, how are they shaped by family, class, institutions (school, welfare systems), gender, age, ethnicity, residence?
  • How do they translate politically, become or not a political issue? Do they lead to political apathy, to the self exclusion of the have not, or do they lead to protest and revolt? Do they incline to support and vote for left and extreme left parties, or for the right and extreme right ones?
  • What are the public policies elaborated to reduce inequalities, what priorities are set, what line of action? In a country like France in particular, attached to the «republican model », to what extent are « affirmative action » policies (education, employment) developing, and how is the welfare system changing?