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Political Science and Political Economy Research Seminar

Political Equality: What is it and why does it matter?

Margaret Levi (Stanford)

Tuesday 26 March 2024 14:00 - 15:30

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.

About this event

Our focus in this paper is on ‘equal consideration’ as an ideal for political equality in democratic settings. Political inequality is a distinctive type of inequality and cannot be reduced to the factors that routinely go into thinking about economic inequalities or inequalities of power. Its currency is performative, not distributive, and is fundamentally about the nature and quality of social relations; politics is intrinsically process-oriented, comprising various ‘political transactions’ across citizens, representatives and interest groups, among others. Thus, to understand political equality, we need to appreciate how individuals relate to one another through the democratic process. We argue that there are two core dimensions that can usefully be studied to bring these ideas to life empirically: patterns of political participation and political representation. Studying these reinforces the idea that, even in advanced democracies, politics is an elite activity concentrated among the educated and those with material and ideological resources. We then unpack when this is damaging to achieving equal consideration, and we discuss a range of reforms throughout history that have been proposed to promote political equality through this lens. ‘[…] no society can genuinely humanize its institutions save as it becomes a community of equals.’ (Harold Laski, 1928, p. 31)

The Political Science and Political Economy (PSPE) research group at the LSE brings together faculty and PhD students who do quantitative and/or formal research on political institutions, political behaviour, public policy, and political economy.

The PSPE Research Seminar provides a venue for researchers (mostly from outside of the LSE) to present their work.

These seminars are held on Tuesdays in term time at 14.00-15.30, both ONLINE AND IN PERSON in room SAL 3.05, unless specified otherwise.

Seminar coordinator: Mathilde Emeriau

Contact to be added to the mailing list and to recieve the zoom link.

For further information please contact Maddie Giles: