NORPOL – is Norwegian society being polarized?
The umbrella project NORPOL is a collection of researcher-initiated sub-projects. The aim is to analyse whether Norwegian society is being polarized – and, if so, how.
The project comprises polarization of various fields, including working life, democracy and the public sphere. Regarding the labour market, our research focuses on changes in the occupational composition. Employment in occupations at the top and bottom of the income distribution seems to be increasing, while employment is declining in the middle. This polarization is often linked to technological change, especially digitalization. A segregated labour market with regard to gender and ethnicity may also entail increasing polarization. In the political sphere, increased political polarization between citizens has received much attention in many Western democracies in recent years. The election of Donald Trump, Brexit, and a tougher public debate, often in social media, are often mentioned as examples. Common to the sub-projects is that they ask what polarization is and how it can be measured, and then test the assumptions about polarization in a Norwegian context. The projects will also discuss the normative aspects of polarization. For example, political polarization can cause distrust in the political system, as we have seen in the United States, but on the other hand, political conflict is also necessary in a healthy democracy.