Who Gets Represented? Political Responsiveness in the Context of Growing Inequality
Lea Elsässer (doctoral project)
Political responsiveness means that policy-makers take into account the opinions and interests of their constituencies, so it is a key characteristic of democratic systems. However, current empirical studies show that decision makers follow the opinions of the resource-rich very closely, thus transforming economic inequality into political inequality. Existing studies focus mainly on the United States, so it remains unclear whether the study findings are transferable to states with different institutional preconditions. Studies focusing on Europe are still rare. This dissertation project aims at filling this gap by examining the responsiveness of German legislative bodies over the past three decades, mainly in the areas of social and economic policy. The primary objective of the project is to empirically assess how overall responsiveness has changed since the 1980s and whether German politics respond selectively to different social groups. Germany constitutes a good comparative case to the United States: in contrast to the US, it is a parliamentary democracy with a proportional electoral system, and it is institutionally embedded in the European Union. The project uses representative surveys, legislative documents, and other sources such as newspapers to set up a database for the systematic analysis of political responsiveness and its relation to social inequality. Project duration: October 2014 to September 2017.
Elsässer, Lea, and Armin Schäfer. 2016. "Group Representation for the Working Class? Opinion Differences among Occupational Groups in Germany." MPIfG Discussion Paper 16/3. Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne.
Elsässer, Lea, Inga Rademacher, and Armin Schäfer. 2015. "Cracks in the Foundation: Retrenchment in Advanced Welfare States." Economic Sociology 16 (3): 4-16.
Streeck, Wolfgang, and Lea Elsässer. 2016. Monetary Disunion: The Domestic Politics of Euroland. Journal of European Public Policy 23 (1), 1-24.