The French National Research Agency Projects for science

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ANR funded project

Métamorphoses de sociétés. Inégalité, inégalités (INEG) 2011

The dynamics of inequalities : constructing perceptions

The DYNEQUAL research project is designed to identify and explain the mechanisms that produce perceptions of inequality. Its starting point is the recognition that these perceptions are not traces - whether it be at the micro-sociological or macro-sociological level — of the objective situation such as it can be measured by the available indicators. Indeed sensitivity to inequality is only weakly correlated with the variables that describe the economic and occupational situation of individuals. Moreover, the gap between the general perception of inequalities in society, and the measures of them provided by statistical indicators, appear to be especially great in the case of France. The perception of inequality is thus a process that is partially independent of social stratification. The objective of the research project is to attempt to identify the mechanisms involved in this process.

This objective will be met by four inter-related research studies. Firstly, it will be necessary to check whether the relative unanimity of opinions on the subject of inequality is not in fact a methodological artefact. Secondly, a group of studies will deal with the heart of the project by attempting to identify how individual perceptions of inequality are produced. This set of studies will deal with a range of questions about the effects of experience of inequality, the role of interpersonal relationships, the genesis of perception transmission between generations, and the role of political attitudes.Thirdly, we will devote attention to some perceptions of inequality which have hitherto been little studied, especially those relating to access to cultural goods. Finally, we will seek a better understanding of the place of the family in perceptions of inequality, by studying the relationships between individual and familial conceptions of fiscal justice.

We intend to deploy a package of complementary methodologies in order to carry out this research. Firstly, a face-to-face quantitative survey of a representative sample will provide a common database to the whole group of research studies. Secondly, four self-administered postal surveys linked to this shared dataset will be conducted with sub-samples of the main survey, and on several of the research topics described above. Interview surveys will complete this quantitative dimension of the project, and for certain parts of the project will be the principal method of investigation. Finally, several innovative methodologies such as on-line surveys, "bulletin board" surveys, and computer simulations, will also be used in some of the proposed research studies.

The research team is comprised mainly of sociologists and political scientists. In addition, one of France's leading economists and a specialist on questions of social inequality will also form part of the group. The majority of participant researchers have already collaborated successfully on some initial research on the subject, and if this project is supported it will further and extend this earlier work.


CMH Centre Maurice Halbwachs

GEMASS Groupe d'étude des Méthodes de l'Analyse Sociologique de la Sorbonne

PACTE Politiques publiques, Action politique, Territoires

ANR grant: 300 000 euros
Beginning and duration: - 36 mois


ANR Programme: Métamorphoses de sociétés. Inégalité, inégalités (INEG) 2011

Project ID: ANR-11-INEG-0007

Project coordinator:
Monsieur Olivier GALLAND (Groupe d'étude des Méthodes de l'Analyse Sociologique de la Sorbonne)


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The project coordinator is the author of this abstract and is therefore responsible for the content of the summary. The ANR disclaims all responsibility in connection with its content.