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Turbulent Times: The Political Consequences of Economic Transformations

A workshop with Professor Mike Savage (LSE) on 31 May 2022 at University of Helsinki


Current democracies have appeared to become increasingly hard to govern as political life has become turbulent and radicalism has been on the rise. This workshop will explore the roots and dynamics of the ongoing political turbulence by exploring the links between politics and economic transformations.

The one-day workshop has been organised by the research project Tackling Biases and Bubbles in Participation (BIBU)* in collaboration with Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ)** and will take place at the University of Helsinki on 31 May 2022 . Professor Mike Savage*** from the London School of Economics (LSE) will join us to discuss and elaborate on the papers.

We are seeking 6-10 papers that would address the theme of the workshop and reflect the link from economic and social relations to politics apprehending the political consequences of economic transformations.

Workshop theme

The ongoing economic transformations—globalisation, technological advances, job polarization and creative destruction— widen societal divisions as inequalities between socioeconomic groups, urban and rural areas and areas within cities are on the rise. In particular, the wealthiest groups have gained wealth and aspiring middle-class professionals continue to enjoy new opportunities. At the same time, middle classes face insecurity and the risk of downward mobility as occupations divide into high- and low-skilled job categories. Additionally, conflicts between the “insiders” and the “outsiders” (i.e., between the wage earners with protected jobs and those who are unemployed, work in the platform economy, or hold temporary jobs with few employment rights) are aggravating. The decreasing labour costs raise fears of a new underclass emerging as growing numbers of individuals occupy precarious employment positions, suffer isolation, are stigmatised as unemployed or encounter racism. Subsequently, societies appear as politically turbulent and hard to govern, and political radicalism is on the rise. In addition, the links between societal elites and citizens are weakened: political leaders cannot rely on relatively stable social classes, and voters act in increasingly volatile ways.

These changes call for studies that will cross the disciplinary borders and track the ways in which these ongoing economic transformations are reflected in social and political life including identities, political views and emotions. Oftentimes, this calls for crossover studies that will draw from different disciplines, such as economics, political science, sociology, social psychology, psychology, communication studies and others.

Thus, we call for papers that address these developments and explore the consequences of economic transformations, preferably those that reflect the link between economics, politics and social developments.  

How to submit your paper

To submit your paper, please send an abstract (500 words) to Project Planner Nette Holopainen ( by 15 February 2022. You will be informed of the outcome by 28 February 2022. It is encouraged that papers are sent by 15 May 2022 in order to facilitate commenting. We will also circulate the papers among workshop participants.

How to participate

You are also welcome to participate in the workshop without presenting a paper. We will send a separate invitation later in the spring through the mailing lists, and you may also enrol through this link:

Connected events 

In addition to this workshop, INEQ organizes a panel discussion Societal Impact of Interdisciplinary Inequality Studies: Why Do We Need New Paradigms in Science Corner on 1 June 2022 (more information coming in the spring). Also, during the spring INEQ hosts a reading circle on Mike Savage’s new book “The Return of Inequality: Social Change and the Weight of the Past” (2021), which will culminate in a meeting with the author on 1 June. Sign in to the reading group by 24 January through this link:


*Tackling Biases and Bubbles in Participation (BIBU) is a research project funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland (2017-2022). More information from our website:

**Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ) is a strategic, multidisciplinary research initiative at the University of Helsinki. INEQ brings together academics whose work enhances an in-depth understanding of causes and consequences of intersecting inequalities. More information from our website:

***Mike Savage is Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and the former director of the LSE’s International Inequalities Institute. Savage's role at LSE builds on his long standing interests in analysing social stratification and inequality. Savage has played a major role in the revival of the sociology of social class in recent decades so that it has become once more a central plank of the discipline. His approach has four distinctive elements: a deep concern to recognise the intersectional and cultural dimensions of social inequalities; insistence on understanding inequality spatially; commitment to a strongly historical approach to analysis; and seeing rigorous research methods as fundamental to sociological inquiry. Savage brings these interests together to renew interests in class analysis so that they are better attuned to contemporary urgencies, especially associated with the burgeoning fortunes of the super-rich.