1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Bibliotherapy for Progressives after the US Presidential Election

22 Nov 2016

In the wake of the US presidential election in November 2016, and similar political phenomena such as the UK referendum on leaving the European Union, many progressives and liberals are asking themselves where we go from here. UNRISD has put together a reading list to reinforce the arguments and analyses of why racism, xenophobia and misogyny are not the answer to (perceived) social and economic losses resulting from globalization and rising inequality.

Did we forget anything? Let us know in the comments below.


Racism and Public Policy
Rodolfo Stavenhagen, Yusuf Bangura: UNRISD and Palgrave, 2005

“Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance are global problems. They affect the life-chances of individuals, social groups, institutions and public policies that seek to promote cohesion, equity and development.” Learn more about the book here. Read the first chapter here.

Poverty and Prosperity: Prospects for Reducing Racial/Ethnic Economic Disparity in the United States
S.Danziger, D.Reed and T.N.Brown: UNRISD, 2005

“America has never been wealthier as a nation, but millions of families still have difficulty making ends meet, and racial/ethnic disparities remain substantial.” Read more.

Exclusionary Populism in Western Europe in the 1990s and Beyond. A Threat to Democracy and Civil Rights?
H.-G.Betz: UNRISD, 2005

“Several characteristics distinguish these parties and movements from the more traditional parties: reliance on charismatic leadership; the pursuit of a populist strategy of political marketing with a pronounced customer (that is, voter) orientation; and the appeal to and mobilization of popular anxieties, prejudices and resentments, the main target of which has been the political establishment.” Read more.


Gender Equality: Striving for Justice in an Unequal World
UNRISD, 2005
    “Women’s wider participation in formal electoral competition brings core issues of political structure to the fore. Reforms to electoral systems may be designed to progress towards equal gender representation; male-dominated political parties may be challenged; and the presence of more, and more visible, women among senior policy makers may improve responsiveness in both policy and practice to women’s needs.” “Women’s activism in civil society is the main force behind women-friendly legislative change, and underpins the efforts of feminists in public office. A strong and autonomous women’s movement can greatly magnify the influence of a women’s caucus, providing ‘an external base of support and legitimacy to counterbalance internal government resistance to the enactment and implementation of feminist policies’ (Weldon 2002:97). Politicians committed to gender equality need to take their cue from domestic women’s movements.”

Confronting Violence Against Women: The Power of Women's Movements (Research and Policy Brief 21)
UNRISD, 2016

“With the SDGs, UN member states have reaffirmed their commitment to eliminating violence against women and are seeking ways to achieve this. UNRISD research has examined cases of successful advocacy for policy change in this area and has identified key drivers and conditions, in particular the active engagement of women’s movements. The recommendations … can help policy makers, women’s human rights advocates and funders to fully recognize the dimensions of the problem of violence against women and strategize effectively to address it.” Read more.


Economic Opportunity, Civil Society and Political Liberty
Ralf Dahrendorf: UNRISD, 1995

“Globalization creates ‘perverse choices’: to become and remain competitive in international markets requires the kind of flexible use of resources which threatens social cohesion and political freedom in a number of ways. The expansion of the global market has, for example, been associated with the creation of new forms of inequality and social exclusion. (…) The new inequality … would be better described as inequalization..., building paths to the top for some and digging holes for others, creating cleavages, splitting”. Six “modest proposals” are made for improving the likelihood that a workable balance can be maintained between wealth creation, social cohesion and political freedom in advanced industrial societies. Read more.

The Sources of Neoliberal Globalization
Jan Aart Scholte. UNRISD: 2005

“On one hand, the negative consequences of neoliberalism for human security, social equity and democracy provide substantial impetus to opposition and change. On the other hand, deep structures and powerful interests support a continuation of globalization-by-marketization. In this situation, it is possible to anticipate more of the political struggles that already figure on the present scene.” Read more.


Delivering Social Protection Systems for All: Why Taxes Matter
Francesca Bastagli. UNRISD: 2015

“In addition to generating resources for the financing of social protection and the broader social compact, tax policy and tax administration decisions have direct poverty and inequality implications. They also influence whether and to what extent tax systems contribute to the establishment and strengthening of government accountability, state-citizen relations and the sustainable financing of social protection policy.” Read more.

Economic Inequality, Financial Crises and Human Rights
Presentation by Mark Herkenrath (Director of Alliance Sud) at this Official Side Event of the 31st Session of the Human Rights Council, organized by UNRISD, socialprotection-humanrights.org, UNOHCHR, ILO, FES, 9 March 2016

“The inability of the real economy to absorb highly concentrated incomes may also be one of the main reasons why inequality leads to slow economic growth. Another reason is that inequality tends to produce social unrest.” Listen to the podcast of Herkenrath's presentation and read more about it.

Universal Social Policy

Towards Universal Social Security in Emerging Economies (Project Brief 3)
UNRISD, 2012

“A key factor in reducing poverty, growth alone is not sufficient to extend and codify social protections. Nor are narrowly targeted transfers or thin safety nets enough. Political will and sufficient state capacity must exist in order to craft and build context-appropriate, comprehensive social security solutions that aspire to universalism.” Read more.

Photo credits from top to bottom: Truthout, Darwin Yamamoto, Elvert Barnes, Faungg, Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office (Creative Commons via Flickr)


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