Bergen Summer Research School

Governance and Inequality

Inequality is a fundamental challenge to human well-being and a major impediment to achieving the the 2030 Agenda. Governance is a key to address and reduce inequality.

Main content

Course leaders
Lise Rakner, Professor of political science at the University of Bergen. 
Ragnhild Louise Muriaas, Professor of political science, UiB.

Course lecturers
Lovise Aalen, Senior Researcher, Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI)
Yasmeen Arif, Professor, Guest researcher at Global Research on Inequality Program (GRIP), UiB
Cornelius Cappelen, Professor of Political Science, University of Bergen
Carl Henrik Knutsen, Professor of Political Science, University of Oslo
Mari Nordbakk, Postdoctoral researcher, Chr. Michelsen Institute
Ingrid Sjursen, Senior Researcher, Chr. Michelsen Institute
Johanna Søderstrøm, Senior Lecturer/Associate, Uppsala University
Bertil Tungodden Professor, NHH Norwegian School of Economics
Vibeke Wang, Senior Researcher, CM

Inequality is a fundamental challenge to human well-being and a major impediment to achieving the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda. Governance, at the local, national, and international levels, is a key to address and reduce inequality. 

How can inequality be addressed by various governance measures? What are the key global perspectives on inequality? Are, for instance, democracies better at tackling inequality than dictatorships? Does governance actually matter for inequality? How can governance measures such as quota systems affect gender inequality? What forms of governance protect minority groups?

This interdisciplinary PhD course gives participants a solid starting point for research on governance and inequality and is organized in three parts:

First, we address the relationship between government and inequality where we discuss inequality in a global context and analyse research and data discussing the relationship between regime forms and inequality. Participants will be acquainted with both empirical and theoretical research and research findings addressing the interconnections between forms of government and inequality. 

Second, we focus on inequality in terms of gender and assess various mechanisms that have been tested to combat gender inequalities in political, social and economic institutions. Based on empirical research and data, participants will apply insights from the course and debate various “best case” governance measures to specific empirical contexts.

Third, we will address taxation and inequality. In order to reduce global inequality, developing countries must be able to control of their own tax destinies which is also crucial to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Participants will discuss the effects of international and national measures to address tax injustice and how this work involves collective action from national and global governance institutions as well as the private sector and civil society.

The course draws on a wide range of research approaches, especially from economics, political science, and sociology.

Learning outcomes
Students will learn to:

  • Study various aspects of inequality linked to finance, regime-form, gender and minority and assess the quality of data on inequality
  • Analyse the role of governance as related to the three aspects of inequality
  • Approach and assess governance as solutions to inequality challenges (case-based learning)
  • Assess and discuss the role and responsibility of key governance actors and institutions at the domestic and international level addressing inequality


June 7 (12.30-13.30)
Introduction:  Lise Rakner

Governance, Inequality 
Lecture 1: Governance and Inequality – Lise Rakner 
Lecture 2: Carl Henrik Knutsen, Professor of Political Science, University of Oslo

June 8 (9 am-12.30 pm)
Global Inequality – perspectives from the global north and south
Lecture 3: Cornelius Cappelen, Professor of Political Science, University of Bergen
Lecture 4: Yasmeen Arif, Professor, Guest researcher at Global Research on Inequality Program (GRIP), UiB 

June 9 (9 am-12.30 pm)
Inequality of gender and development
Lecture 5: Gender Inequality and Economic Growth. Ragnhild Louise Muriaas, Professor of Political Science, University of Bergen. 
Lecture 6: Political Institutions: Gender and impact on policy making. Vibeke Wang, Senior Researcher, CMI. 

June 10 (9 am-12.30 pm)
Inequality of gender and development
Lecture 7: Social Institutions: Marriage and Gender Norms. Mari Nordbakk, Postdoctoral researcher CMI. 
Lecture 8: Economic Institutions: Gender, employment and empowerment. Lovise Aalen, Senior Researcher, CMI. 

June 13 (9 am-12.30 pm)
Institutional responses to economic inequality
Lecture 9: Global tax inequality
Lecture 10: Studying tax inequality: Focus group methodology (Lis Rakner / Johanna Søderstrøm, Uppsala University)

June 14 (9 am-12.30 pm)
Inequality and governance: Data and methods
Lecture 11: Inequality and governance- group work
Lecture 12: Preparing group presentations

June 15 (9 am-12.30 pm)
Taxing Africa
Lectures 13-14: Taxing Africa. Ingrid Sjursen NHH/Chr. Michelsen Institute

June 16 (9 am-12.30 pm)
Inequality and fairness views across the world 
Lecture 15: Fairness across the world – Bertil Tungodden, Professor, NHH Norwegian School of Economics (Jointly with the course Economic Experiments in Developing Countries)

Project presentations
Group presentations


Participation at the BSRS is credited under the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Participants submitting an essay, in a form of a publishable manuscript of 10-20 pages, after the end of the summer school will receive 10 ECTS. Deadline for submission will be decided by your course leader.

It is also possible to participate without producing an essay. This will give you 4 ECTS. To receive credits, we expect full participation in the course-specific modules, plenary events and roundtables.

Course leaders

Lise Rakner is professor of political science at the University of Bergen. Her research covers the fields of democratization and autocratization, with particular emphasis on human rights, electoral politics, political parties and processes of democratic backsliding. Her work also extents to political economy, with an emphasis on economic reforms, taxation, business associations, budget processes and aid effectiveness. She is currently the principal investigator (PI) of the research projects Breaking BAD: Understanding Backlash Against Democracy in Africa and Autocratization Dynamics: Innovations in Research-Embedded Learning.

Ragnhild Louise Muriaas is professor of political science at UiB. Her research focuses on the interaction between gender and politics, with a particular focus on representation, political careers, and political financing. She is the leader of the board at the Centre for Women's and Gender Research (SKOK) at the University of Bergen. She is currently the project leader of a ERC project (consolidator) titled SUCCESS Gender-Gap in Political Endurance: a novel political inclusion theory (2021-2026). In the first part of the project, data on different aspects of gender and political endurance will be collected in France, Norway, and the United States.