1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Engaging the Elites: Class Coalitions for a 21st Century Social Compact

Welcome to the UNRISD Ideas Incubator! This is a space where we take special care of ideas for new research projects. The idea on this page is still being developed: it is a “pre-project”, not yet fully fledged or funded. To join us in accelerating research on this issue, please get in touch!

Inequalities in wealth and income have grown in most countries over the last four decades. Economic and political power is trickling up to elites, in a reinforcing process.

How then can transformative change, as envisioned in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, happen in the current climate of powerful elites who naturally wish to protect the status quo from which they benefit? What is the role of the middle classes in pushing for change, and how are they growing and shrinking in different parts of the world? What is the role of those being left behind at the bottom of the ladder?

The Engaging Elites project will examine contemporary cases where coalitions across social classes are proving conducive to progressive policy reforms, and the conditions that enable or hinder their development. The findings will inform policy makers and activists working for inclusive social policies and democratic, participative societies.

Join Engaging the Elites in the following ways:

Contact paul.ladd@un.org if you are in a position to provide
the financial support necessary to build an evidence base on these topics.

Contact katja.hujo@un.org if you want to commission investigative work to UNRISD;
you would like to co-design one of these project ideas in collaboration with UNRISD;
or you would like to join UNRISD as a
Visiting Research Fellow to work on one of these ideas.

Contact jenifer.freedman@un.org if you agree that these are important areas for research
and you want to help us gain support for them by spreading the word.

Interested in this idea? Visit Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization to read more about how it has developed, and related activities.

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UNRISD does not receive funding from the regular budget of the United Nations. As an extrabudgetary UN entity, the Institute depends entirely on voluntary contributions to carry out all our activities. To join us in accelerating research on this issue, please email us.


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