Social-ecological dimensions of social inequalities in Latin America

The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) is part of the research network, aiming at a paradigmatic shift in the research on social inequalities in Latin America. Key issues of the project are the role of global and transregional interdependencies in the distribution of resources and the improving of the social position as well as the impact of embeddedness of social inequalities into transregional interdependencies.

Project Team:
Imme Scholz
Christian von Haldenwang

Time Frame:
2010 - 2013 / completed

Project description

Joint research at is guided by two central research questions:

 (1) To what extent is the distribution of resources and the access to aspired social positions in Latin America shaped by global and transregional interdependencies, in addition to local, regional, and national ones?

(2) To what extent does the embeddedness of social inequalities into transregional interdependencies create enduring power differences and unequal opportunities for the social, economic, and political participation of the respective individuals, communities, or societies?

In order to work on these two central questions, analytically differentiates between three distinct dimensions of social inequality: socio-economic inequalities (Research Dimension I), socio-political inequalities (Research Dimension II), and socio-ecological inequalities (Research Dimension III). In the beginning, research in the network will be organized according to these three dimensions, providing the network with a clear structure. In the course of the project, however, the analytical separation between the three dimensions will be given up in favor of a comprehensive perspective, focusing on the systematic interdependencies between the different dimensions of social inequality.

The research on socio-economic dimensions of social inequalities (Research Dimension I) takes a clear structural perspective. The basic approaches derive from political economics and sociology.However, the interdisciplinary design of explicitly welcomes contributions from history and legal studies as well.

The research on socio-political dimensions of social inequalities (Research Dimension II) takes a pronounced power-analytical perspective while addressing (trans)regional representations, experiences, and negotiation processes of social inequalities. This perspective is mainly inspired by contributions from political sciences, sociology, ethnology, social anthropology, history, and legal studies.
The research on socio-ecological dimensions of social inequalities (Research Dimension III) looks at the environment as the prism of social inequalities influenced by transregional interdependencies (as it is, for example, the case with soybean production or globalized mining). The analysis of power and knowledge as pursued by approaches within social anthropology, human geography, and sociology is at the core of this research dimension.

Emphasizing the transregional interdependencies of social inequalities, each research dimension will be confronted with theoretical and methodological challenges. These will be systematically addressed in the Cross-cutting Research Dimension: Theory and Methodology. Here, research will focus on new temporal configurations of social inequalities, be they synchronic or diachronic, as well as on new spatial configurations, be they local, national, regional, or global. The aim of the fourth research dimension is to systematize translocal and transregional entanglements in the field of social inequalities. On a methodological level, the fourth research dimension aims at developing new research designs and methodological approaches for analyzing transregional flows and connections that shape local phenomena of social inequality in Latin America such as multi-sited research, comparative research, or global ethnography. These approaches must be able to systematically integrate both structure- as well as agency-related dimensions of globalization and transregionalization. This will be realized by an active participation of all three other research dimensions and all disciplines involved in the network.

More information can be found under the following link:


Current Publications

When and how can foreign aid slow migration?

Martin-Shields, Charles / Steffen Angenendt / Benjamin Schraven
Externe Publikationen of 14 December 2017

Die ökonomischen Auswirkungen von EU-Freihandelsabkommen auf Entwicklungsländer

Brandi, Clara
Externe Publikationen of 14 December 2017