Jonas Pontusson

Jonas Pontusson holds a BA from Amherst College (1978) and a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley (1984). Prior to moving to Geneva in 2010, he taught at Cornell University (1984-2005) and Princeton University (2005-10). He has been a visiting scholar at Nuffield College (Oxford), the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in Social Sciences (Uppsala), the Russell Sage Foundation (New York), Sciences Po (Paris) and the Hertie School of Governance (Berlin). Jonas has a long-standing interest in the comparative politics of inequality and redistribution, with an emphasis on labor-market dynamics and the role of trade unions. He has written extensively on Swedish social democracy and also contributed to the literature on varieties of capitalism. His current research deals with two topics: the politics of growth models and political inequality in liberal democracies. Jonas holds a five-year Advanced Grant from the European Research Council devoted to the latter topic.

Jonas Pontusson is welcomed at EHESS in the framework of its Visiting Scholar Program on proposal of Sébastien Lechevalier (CCJ-FFJ).



Trade unions and support for redistribution in Western Europe

In the seminar, Current Research in Socio-Economics, organized by Eve Chiapello et Paul Lagneau-Ymonet.

Many analyses of cross-national survey data find that union members are more likely to be supportive of redistributive policies than respondents who are not union members. Analyzing British, German, and Swedish survey data, this paper demonstrates that the union membership effect on support for redistribution varies depending on the kinds of unions to which individuals belong. Regardless of their own income, wage-earners who belong to unions whose membership encompasses a wide swath of the income distribution tend to be more supportive of redistribution than members of unions that are less inclusive. This suggests that the decline of union membership among poorly paid wage-earners—a common trend across OECD countries—has more far-reaching implications for the politics of redistribution than commonly recognized.

  • 16 January 2020, from 5.00 to 7.00 p.m. / EHESS, Room 1 (105 boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris)


Post-Fordist growth models in Western Europe before and after the Great Recession

In the seminar organized by Sébastien Lechevalier, Comprendre le changement institutionnel en Asie.

Focusing on Britain, Germany, Italy and Sweden, this paper identifies distinct growth trajectories in the period since the early 1990s.  The paper proposes a theoretical framework for understanding « national diversity » that emphasizes demand-drivers of growth rather than supply-side institutions and brings the politics of macroeconomic management to the fore as topic for comparative political economists to pursue.

  • 22 January 2020, from 1.00 to 3.00 p.m. / EHESS, Room AS1_23 (54 boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris)


Social blocs and the political representation of sectoral interests

In the seminar, Current Research in Socio-Economics, organized by Eve Chiapello et Paul Lagneau-Ymonet.

This paper seeks to develop a comprehensive analytical framework for studying the politics of economic growth by engaging with three literatures in comparative political economy: the literature on producer-group coalitions, the literature on electoral politics and constrained partisanship and, finally, the literature on the role of ideas.  Drawing on Gramsci, we argue that “social blocs” should be conceived as enduring constellations of sectoral and class interests that are organized in hierarchical manner, with certain components of the social bloc being privileged relative to others.  We argue further that mainstream political parties compete with each other based, in part, on claims to competence as managers of the social bloc and that economic voting explains the political influence of economic sectors that are critical to the particular growth models that different countries have adopted.  Finally, we emphasize that social blocs have an important ideological dimension.  We illustrate these claims through stylized case studies of the politics of economic growth in Germany and Sweden since the early 1990s.

  • 23 January 2020, from 5.00 to 7.00 p.m. / EHESS, Room 1 (105 boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris)


Cross-national variation in political representation by income and social class in liberal democracies

This conference is organized by the Fondation France-Japon de l’EHESS (FFJ).

This talk will explore the consequences of rising inequality for the politics of redistribution in OECD countries since the early 1990s.  In most countries, governments do not appear to have engaged in the compensatory redistribution that standard theories of liberal democracy would lead us to expect.  The talk will articulate and discuss two alternative perspectives on this puzzle: (1) government polices have become less responsive to the demands of low-income and middle-income citizens; and (2) the interests of low-income and middle-income citizens are less closely aligned than the used to be.

  • 4 February 2020, from 6.00 to 8.00 p.m. / EHESS, Room 8 (105 boulevard Raspail 75006 Paris)