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For the (re-)allocation of goods and life chances, liberal scripts involve rules and goals in the face of social and material scarcities. The liberal script assigns the free market as the key mechanism of allocation, which invariably results in uneven outcomes. Welfare states attempt to reduce inequalities via, for instance, progressive taxation.

RU (Re-)Allocation addresses three areas concerning resource allocations:

1. Internal/external contestations

Efforts to address one form of inequality may negatively impact another inequality. For instance, efforts to increase gender equality may lead to greater inequality across social class. In addition, the sustainability of welfare states becomes questionable when faced with reduced tax bases due to declining birth rates, aging populations, and tax evasion. Adding to that complexity are the rights and opportunities for immigrants in a given country.

2. Causes

The liberal script’s free market principle in the form of globalization tends to increase inequality within and among states, while also placing greater concentrations of wealth in fewer hands. In addition, demographic changes stemming from, for example, migration and an aging society further complicate resource allocation. Technology and digitalization – by-products themselves of the liberal script – bring forth benefits to society while also exacerbating inequality.

3. Consequences

Are the current contestations part of a longer-term social history, or are they more a product of a post-Cold War world? What happens to public support for the welfare state as inequality increases? RU Re-Allocation will investigate whether disputes over compromised equal opportunities, constrained social expenditures and migrant integration are mere short-term contestations or if they possess greater longevity.

With its focus on inequality, the RU (Re-)Allocation ultimately tackles a fundamental challenge of the 21st century. Is the crisis of the liberal script a crisis of capitalism? Are capitalism and democracy an elective affinity or a contradiction that cannot be overcome? The study of social inequality, demographic changes, and technological innovation will allow us to shed light on this issue and on how inequality combines with other pressures on the liberal script, such as climate change, (forced) migration, or demands for political and social inclusion.