Objectives and Research

Our global, interconnected present is characterised by new constellations within various realms of knowledge—including culture, policy, economics and society. This calls for more diverse, critical and integrated scientific approaches entailing a re-thinking of relations across domains often approached separately, such as racism/xenophobia and climate change, or the emergence of new digital technologies and the exponential growth of knowledge systems at a global level. GRIP is designed for such re-thinking, both to give the programme greater impact and to provide a more comprehensive grasp of the diversity of scientific research within the field of inequality. Crucially, GRIP will approach research on, with and between the global North and South, thus dealing with inequality on the scale of the global.

GRIP is a global programme characterized by the vision “Making research on inequality count” and with the mission “Connecting global and critical research on inequality for a transformation of our world”. Its scientific objectives are:

  • to rearticulate and integrate recent developments in poverty research into a broader research framework around inequality;
  • to focus on the interactions between six dimensions of inequality (economic, social, political, cultural, environmental and knowledge-based);
  • to analyse how these interactions are created, reproduced, maintained and experienced in different urban contexts;
  • to address two interconnected yet distinct research modalities: understanding inequality and addressing inequality;
  • to produce actionable and relevant research contributing to societal impact and transformation in relation to inequality.

The Global Research Programme on Inequality (GRIP) works to connect global and critical research on inequality in a way that can contribute to systemic transformations. Our research aims to better understand the multiple facets of inequality, including economic, social, political, cultural, environmental and knowledge-based inequalities, and to contribute to addressing these through producing actionable and relevant research.

GRIP approaches inequality through two interconnected, yet distinct, research modalities:

  • Understanding inequality through multidimensional and plural research on inequality guided by questions regarding the fundamental nature, historical legacy and constitution of knowledge about inequality. GRIP aims at integrating partners and teams from across the globe around a common research framework that reflects plural epistemic traditions, including perspectives and concerns from the global South.
  • Addressing inequality through understanding contestations over inequality, the responses developed by people affected, and the policy tools (including laws and policies) that aim to redress inequality, in order to identify possible pathways towards greater equality in different contexts. This will include producing knowledge that can feed directly into relevant global or regional policy processes such as Agenda 2030, and other processes led by UN bodies.

Dimensions of Inequality

An increasing amount of knowledge has established that inequality is a multidimensional and complex challenge to human development, prosperity and well-being. Research has also suggested that inequalities – in wealth, lifespan or through geography – may actually be increasing rather than being reduced. In such a global context, exacerbated by climate change, GRIP approaches inequality as irreducible to socio-economic indicators alone. GRIP therefore aims to understand inequality through six inter-related dimensions:

economic inequality: including differences between levels of incomes, assets, wealth, capital, living standards and employment;
social inequality: differences between the social status of groups and imbalances in the education, health, justice and social protection systems;
political inequality: the differentiated capacity for individuals and groups to influence political decision-making processes and to benefit from those decisions, and to enter into political action;
cultural inequality: discriminations based on gender, ethnicity and race, religion, disability and other group identities;
environmental inequality: unevenness in access to natural resources and benefits from their exploitation, exposure to pollution and risks, and differences in the agency needed to adapt to such threats;
knowledge-based inequality: differences in access and contribution to different sources and types of knowledge, as well as consequences of these disparities.



GRIP facilitates collaboration across disciplines and knowledge systems around problems of inequality, and integrates different empirical and theoretical, qualitative and quantitative, local and comparative/global research approaches. Designed as a radically inter-disciplinary programme with an anchor in the social sciences, the programme also invites health, data, natural and other scientists, in co-designed processes of knowledge construction.

GRIP builds on long-standing traditions of research that is relevant for social transformation – including action-driven forms of inequality research that make use of various methodologies and data (quantitative and qualitative indicators, large-scale datasets, archives, case studies and existing knowledge) in order to address inequality in ways that have impact and contribute to transformation in a broad sense.


Global Reach

In order to be truly global and to reflect multiple human perceptions and worldviews—including those of scholars—the GRIP research programme aims to, critically and reflexively, take advantage of increasingly important knowledge formation outside Europe and North America. This means being attentive to plural and global epistemologies about inequality and its considerable globally systemic nature—for instance in academic institutions and hegemonic discourses.

GRIP’s approach to inequality entails both acknowledging and exploring a changing global epistemological landscape, including the current politics of epistemic freedom and pluralism, and recognising the importance of a global ecology of knowledges. With this, GRIP aims to foster collaboration through the co-construction of knowledge around inequality reflecting plural epistemic traditions and integrating partners and teams from across the world.