AFSEE has given support to a number of innovative research projects with the aim of further investigating the key issues of inequality and strengthening connections with our partners.

Multidimensional Inequality Framework

Oxfam and Abigail McKnight


The Visiting Atlantic Fellowship that led to this project took place between May and November 2017.

The Multidimensional Inequality Framework (MIF) is the outcome of a collaboration between Dr Abigail McKnight (LSE Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion) and Oxfam. This project combined academic research with activist insights to develop a robust and pragmatic toolkit that will help activists and practitioners improve their understanding of inequalities, beyond the usual focus on income inequality. It works to give a better understanding of inequalities in any given context, including the links to poverty dynamics, main drivers, and consequences for citizens, which will help with effective campaign programming and policy-making. 

The MIF builds on the latest academic research and integrates practitioner, activist and policy expertise held within Oxfam to produce a theoretically grounded yet practical product that allows policy makers, activists and practitioners to grasp inequalities with the width and depth required. The toolkit has now been trialled in two countries; in Guatamala, working with the Paraíso Desigual campaign and IDIES, and in Spain. There are additional pilots underway in Burkina Faso and Vietnam.

Read more about the Multidimensional Inequality Framework.
Download the Multidimensional Inequality Framework report (PDF).


Inequality decline and the politics of redistribution

Rebecca Simson and Mike Savage

Towerblock apartments.jpg

September 2017 - June 2018

The current state of knowledge about inequality dynamics in developing regions remains inadequate. Given the growing concern about rising inequality globally, understanding more about the countries that have successfully reduced inequality and examining how and when governments have introduced redistributive policies may help to galvanize momentum for reform in other contexts. With this in mind, the III developed a research programme to study cases of inequality decline and redistributive policy-making in developing countries with a focus on the political conditions that led to their adoption.

The Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme supported an effort to map income inequality trends across the developing world, identifying countries where inequality has substantially declined in the last two decades. The results of this study will be made available later in the year.

The project also produced a concept note for a future longer research programme, which would combine detailed case study research on a sample of countries where inequality has declined, along with thematic papers on drivers of inequality decline. Ultimately, the researchers are looking to challenge idea that inequality inevitably rises in the absence of wars or crises, and to widen the inequality debate beyond focus on Europe, North America and Asia.


Mapping the Fight Against Inequality

Fight Inequality Alliance, Jenny Ricks


June - December 2018

The Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity are working with the Fight Inequality Alliance to map the various groups, movement, and activists currently challenging inequality. This work will help to further the current understanding of the state of the fight against inequality, the numbers of active groups, their approaches, and successes. 

This analysis aims to reveal best practice, successful tactics and trends, and will assisting in further connecting disparate groups to build concerted and collective action. A report will be published in 2019.


The Power of Counter-Narratives?

Led by Mary Hodgson, (the Young Foundation)


September - November 2017

This project was a research residency that explored how, and the extent to which, counter-narratives can be an important site of challenge and change.

Focusing on the unheard, alternative or counter-narrative in particular, and developing specific examples from the Young Foundation’s work in communities in the UK and with MONDRAGON (the world’s largest worker-led co-operative, based in Spain), the research looks at the ways in which counter-narratives expressed by seldom-heard groups develop new insights into the embodiment of inequality in everyday life and how it might be changed.
It also explores how they are a part of resistance and struggle, and drive social mission and vision, for example shaping alternative means and modes of action, as well as broader challenges to orthodoxy, through exploring praxis; the relationship between thought and action.

The research is drawn from the Young Foundation’s recognition that narratives characterise and identify inequality problems as well as influence solutions. Results of the research will be shared as a report (anticipated publication date, September 2018) and with the III and Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity as part of their curriculum, and the tools devised as part of the project will be used in ongoing Young Foundation work.


Faces of Inequality

Paul Segal, Oxfam Mexico, Periodismo CIDE, Chilango journalists

Faces of Inequality.jpg


Inequality has risen to the top of the development agenda. But there remain large gaps in understandings of inequalities, both among scholars and among citizens. People rarely know where they fit in the income distribution, and have still less understanding of what it means to live a life at different points of the distribution – especially in a country as unequal as Mexico.

This project will produce a multidisciplinary and multimedia representation of inequality in Mexico, combining quantitative data, qualitative data, and visual representations in photographs and film.

The academic researchers are working with journalists from Periodismo CIDE, a leading academic school of journalism in Mexico, and Chilango, a journalist group, to interview people from across the income spectrum to explore their everyday experiences and their understandings of inequality. Photographs and film will capture aspects of their homes, neighbourhoods, the food they eat, and the public spaces in which they interact.

Once these quantitative interviews are concluded, the information will be featured in journalistic pieces in Mexico as well as feeding into Oxfam Mexico’s ongoing campaign work and being adapted into an online presentation. AFSEE is also exploring whether the material could be further developed into an exhibition.


Engagement on Strategies to Overcome Inequality in South Africa

Led by the University of Cape Town


While South Africa in many ways outperforms other African nations, rising inequality continues to act as a barrier to achieving economic transformation and equitable growth. A two-day event in Pretoria, South Africa was organised to disseminate research on inequality and to help formulate policies that will tackle these constraints head on.

The event brought together South African researchers and policy makers, a select group of international participants and some of South Africa’s leading NGOs/NPOs working in the policy space, to consolidate lessons from South African on strategies to overcome inequality and to connect with similar processes that have been running internationally. As part of the event a panel was assembled of key individuals from civil society to explore how they engage with inequalities.


In order to include a truly global perspective, the III is working with the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town to design and deliver the programme for the Atlantic Fellows. We also work with the Centre for Social Cohesion and Conflict Studies in Chile. In future years additional partners in Asia will be included on the programme.

University of Cape Town

The Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town is a key partner to the programme, assisting with the outreach and recruitment of Fellows, with designing the curriculum, and hosting key events. This year UCT hosted the III Annual Conference, expanding and enriching the content by inviting the participation of voices from the Global South. They also deliver one of the weeklong Fellows’ modules, ensuring the Global South perspective is included in the curriculum.



The AFSEE programme also works with the Centre for Social Conflict and Cohesion Studies based in Santiago, Chile. As well as supporting the programme with the outreach and recruitment of Fellows, COES are hosting a short policy engagement course which will be open to current and Lifelong Atlantic Fellows (those who have completed their induction year of study) from both AFSEE and the six other Atlantic Fellows programmes.


Institute for Policy Studies

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) is a progressive think tank based in New York, USA, dedicated to building a more equitable, ecologically sustainable, and peaceful society. IPS also runs the popular blogsite and brings this expertise to the Fellows’ modules with blogging workshops and insights into effective communication strategies.


Narrative Initiative

As part of the Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme, Fellows explore a variety of approaches to challenging inequalities. Core to this work is challenging the dominant narrative, the popular understanding portrayed through the media and society as a whole, about how inequalities are formed, the extent and scale of inequalities around the world today, and whether there is an alternative. 

AFSEE works in partnership with the Narrative Initiative to build the Fellows’ understanding through a series of activities and sessions exploring how stories are formed and how they are most effectively told, the way in which people and communities develop their understanding of inequality through the media, and how these tools can be used to challenge this inequality.