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Inequality and Political Representation


Admission requirements



One of the foundations of modern democracy is that all adult citizens should have equal opportunities and capabilities to influence their government. In practice, however, this political equality is threatened by the existence of various economic and social inequalities. For instance, if the rich are able to buy policy influence with campaign donations, there is not much political equality to speak of. This seminar will focus on whether and how socioeconomic inequalities affect political representation in established democracies. We will cover which forms of representation can be distinguished (e.g. substantive and descriptive representation), how inequality affects each of these forms and which consequences this has for domestic and international politics. The seminar will primarily draw on empirical research, but will also touch on normative questions about inequality and representation.

Course objectives

  • The student will acquire empirical and theoretical knowledge on one of the subfields of political science, more specifically political representation.

  • The student is capable of analyzing and interpreting societal and political phenomena in relation to political representation.

  • The student can independently find relevant literature and is able to critically evaluate social scientific research.

  • The student is capable of formulating a research question and make use of academic research methods to answer it in a clearly argued and well-written report.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • Total course load: 280 hours

  • Seminars: 28 hours

  • Studying the literature: 110 hours

  • Written assignments and final paper: 142 hours

Assessment method

Participation (10%)
Assignments (4) (40%)
Final paper proposal (10%)
Final paper (40%)


Blackboard is mainly used for organizational purposes.

Reading list



See general information on tab 'Year 3'