Democracy, Inequality and Power is the theme of our 2015 Policy & Politics conference

Bristol Marriot Royal Hotel
Bristol Marriot Royal Hotel

Join us at the Marriott Royal Hotel in Bristol on 15th and 16th September to debate the relationship between democracy, inequality and power. This year will mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta providing an opportunity to reflect on the failures and successes of democratic policy and politics in the UK and around the world.

Some of the issues we’ll be discussing include:

  • austerity politics and the disproportionate impacts on society’s most vulnerable,
  • increased awareness of disparities in relation to electoral and political participation amongst a range of social groups (leading to concerns about ‘a divided democracy’),
  • the reshaping of the relationship between government, business and civil society,
  • rising ‘urbanisation’ and associated concerns about the governance of place, space and territory,
  • developments in information and communication technology and its impact on citizens’ engagement with politics and public services,
  • civic unrest linked to demands for democracy, equality and transparent government,
  • human rights initiatives around gender, age, race, disability and sexuality, and
  • a reconfiguration of the role of the mass media and social media in policy and politics.

Within this global context, the concepts of democracy, inequality and power and their relationship to policy and politics remain pertinent. We welcome submissions from practitioners and scholars from any field and discipline from around the world to engage with this topic.

Relevant questions for papers and panels to explore include:

  • How relevant is the concept of inequality in twenty-first century policy and politics?
  • How is the relationship between want and need and inequality changing?
  • How many faces does power have in the twenty-first century?
  • How do increasingly fast ‘flows’ (information, people, capital, etc.) affect the relationship between democracy, inequality and power?
  • What do we actually know about global patterns of inequality or where power lies?
  • How do political structures and new forms of governance affect forms of democracy and inequality?
  • What is missing from the research and political debate on democracy, inequality and power?
  • Is inequality always a ‘bad’ thing?
  • How can the social sciences assist in improving democracy and inequality in the design and delivery of public services?

We are, of course, particularly keen for participants to think creatively and innovatively about this topic so the questions listed here are by no means intended to restrict the scope of papers or panels.

We look forward to welcoming our distinguished plenary speakers and hope you will join us to hear their thoughts on the line up below:

  • Professor Danny Dorling (University of Oxford, UK) – Not just economics: what we know about why social inequality persists
  • Professor Andrew Gamble (University of Sheffield, UK) – Can democracy survive?
  • Professor Mark Purcell (University of Washington, US) – Democracy against, beyond and without the state
  • Professor Kate Pickett (University of York, UK) – The human costs of inequality

The deadline for submitting a panel proposal is 6th February 2015 and the deadline for submitting a paper or poster proposal is 1st May 2015. Details on how to submit your ideas can be found at

We look forward to hearing your ideas.

If you enjoyed this blog entry, you may be interested viewing the film of our last conference on leadership at

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