Quotation Grisold, Andrea, Silke, Henry. 2019. Denying, downplaying, debating: defensive discourses of inequality in the debate on Piketty. Critical Discourse Studies. 16 (3), 264-281.




A clear sign of the heightened interest in economic inequality was the surprise popularity of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the twenty-first century. The book reached the top of the bestseller lists and was described as a ‘media sensation’ and Piketty himself as a ‘rockstar economist’. Piketty’s key thesis stated that the return on investment will be higher than economic growth (r > g), meaning that inequality is destined to worsen and that the post-war Keynesian period of progress, in terms of a flattening of inequality, was in fact a small break from the norm. What he termed patrimonial capitalism would see continual increases in rates of socio-economic inequality unless drastic action is taken. In this article, Piketty’s book is treated as a paramount example of the mediation of economic inequality. The book received a generally positive response, however some writers acted defensively against the book’s main thesis, that is the secular trend of growing inequality. Exploring the press in the UK, Germany, Ireland and Austria we investigate what we term defensive discourses on inequality, meaning discourses which act to downplay, deny or conflate Piketty’s findings including discourses challenging his data and methods, discourses defending inequality as a necessity and discourses opposing regulation.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Critical Discourse Studies
Citation Index SSCI
Language English
Title Denying, downplaying, debating: defensive discourses of inequality in the debate on Piketty
Volume 16
Number 3
Year 2019
Page from 264
Page to 281
URL https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17405904.2019.1570289
DOI https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2019.1570289
Open Access N


Grisold, Andrea (Details)
Silke, Henry (University of Limerick, Ireland)
Department of Economics (Grisold) (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
5300 Economics (Details)
5304 Labour market research (Details)
5341 Economic policy (Details)
5362 Cultural economics (Details)
5410 Cultural science (Details)
5918 Media research, -studies (Details)
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