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Thomas Piketty on Capital and Ideology. An EUI-interdisciplinary review essay

Dates:
  • Mon 16 Nov 2020 15.00 - 16.15
  Add to Calendar 2020-11-16 15:00 2020-11-16 16:15 Europe/Paris Thomas Piketty on Capital and Ideology. An EUI-interdisciplinary review essay

Seminar of the Inequality, Welfare and Social Justice interdisciplinary research cluster.

Presentation of an EUI-interdisciplinary review essay of Thomas Piketty's book "Capital and Ideology" (table of contents)

Thomas Piketty’s Capital and Ideology is a tour de force. Ranging across time periods and countries, the book provides an extremely rich empirical study on how inequality has been legitimated around the globe over centuries. The 2020 sequel to Piketty’s much praised Capital in the 21st Century, published in English in 2014, is in many respects more ambitious. Capital and Ideology is a compelling interdisciplinary exercise, venturing into history and political science, political economy and sociology, away from Piketty’s home discipline of economics, to settle on a largely political explanation of the staying power of inequalities. Ultimately, in terms of policy prescription, Piketty’s advocates what he calls ‘participatory socialism’, incorporating progressive income taxation, high inheritance taxes and a capital endowment for each individual, as effective and fair.

 

At its core, Capital and Ideology abandons the deterministic inference of ever-growing wealth inequality as a function of the rate of return on capital surpassing the rate of economic growth. Much like its instant-classic predecessor, Capital and Ideology rests on well researched primary sources and is immensely rich in detail. As such the book is destined to spur further cross-disciplinary debate on capitalism and inequality, and how to redress deepening economic disadvantage.

 

As a modest contribution to this important interdisciplinary debate, a small group of scholars at the European University Institute (EUI) with training in economics, history, political science and sociology teamed up to discuss the merits and the weaknesses of Thomas Piketty’s impressive sequel to Capital in the 21st Century. Our review essay comprises six sections. First, we reflect on the broad historical narrative that Piketty recounts in the book. Next, we seek to unearth Piketty’s theoretical take on institutional change and the role of ideas lurking behind the punctuated succession of ‘inequality regimes’ across the globe. Close to Piketty’s disciplinary home base of economics, in the third section we discuss indicators and issues effective taxation. This is followed, fourth, by an analysis of the politics to enforce more progressive policies across the EU. We then compare the merits of Piketty’s policy option of ‘participatory socialism’ in relation to ‘social investment’ – an alternative advocated mostly by leading sociologists. Our conclusion draws wider implications for future research on inequality across welfare democracies. 

 

Please register here in order to receive the Zoom link.

Outside EUI premises - via Zoom DD/MM/YYYY
  Outside EUI premises - via Zoom

Seminar of the Inequality, Welfare and Social Justice interdisciplinary research cluster.

Presentation of an EUI-interdisciplinary review essay of Thomas Piketty's book "Capital and Ideology" (table of contents)

Thomas Piketty’s Capital and Ideology is a tour de force. Ranging across time periods and countries, the book provides an extremely rich empirical study on how inequality has been legitimated around the globe over centuries. The 2020 sequel to Piketty’s much praised Capital in the 21st Century, published in English in 2014, is in many respects more ambitious. Capital and Ideology is a compelling interdisciplinary exercise, venturing into history and political science, political economy and sociology, away from Piketty’s home discipline of economics, to settle on a largely political explanation of the staying power of inequalities. Ultimately, in terms of policy prescription, Piketty’s advocates what he calls ‘participatory socialism’, incorporating progressive income taxation, high inheritance taxes and a capital endowment for each individual, as effective and fair.

 

At its core, Capital and Ideology abandons the deterministic inference of ever-growing wealth inequality as a function of the rate of return on capital surpassing the rate of economic growth. Much like its instant-classic predecessor, Capital and Ideology rests on well researched primary sources and is immensely rich in detail. As such the book is destined to spur further cross-disciplinary debate on capitalism and inequality, and how to redress deepening economic disadvantage.

 

As a modest contribution to this important interdisciplinary debate, a small group of scholars at the European University Institute (EUI) with training in economics, history, political science and sociology teamed up to discuss the merits and the weaknesses of Thomas Piketty’s impressive sequel to Capital in the 21st Century. Our review essay comprises six sections. First, we reflect on the broad historical narrative that Piketty recounts in the book. Next, we seek to unearth Piketty’s theoretical take on institutional change and the role of ideas lurking behind the punctuated succession of ‘inequality regimes’ across the globe. Close to Piketty’s disciplinary home base of economics, in the third section we discuss indicators and issues effective taxation. This is followed, fourth, by an analysis of the politics to enforce more progressive policies across the EU. We then compare the merits of Piketty’s policy option of ‘participatory socialism’ in relation to ‘social investment’ – an alternative advocated mostly by leading sociologists. Our conclusion draws wider implications for future research on inequality across welfare democracies. 

 

Please register here in order to receive the Zoom link.


Location:
Outside EUI premises - via Zoom

Affiliation:
Academic Service
Department of Economics
Department of History and Civilization
Department of Law
Department of Political and Social Sciences

Type:
Research seminar

Contact:
Serena Belligoli (EUI - Academic Service) - Send a mail

Organiser:
Prof. Laura Lee Downs (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
Prof. Anton Hemerijck (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences)
Prof. Thomas Crossley (EUI - Department of Economics)

Speaker:
Prof. Laura Lee Downs (EUI - Department of History and Civilization)
Prof. Anton Hemerijck (EUI - Department of Political and Social Sciences)
Marta Lopes (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)
Johannes Ludwig Maria Pelzl (EUI)
Jakob Frizell (EUI - SPS)
Fabian Mushovel (London School of Economics)

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