Edited by Pat Hudson and Keith Tribe
The Contradictions of Capital in the Twenty-First Century; The Piketty Opportunity is a volume of essays that builds upon renewed interest in the long-run global development of wealth and inequality stimulated by the publication in 2014 of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century. It brings together an international team of leading economic historians and economists to provide a comprehensive overview of global developments in the theory, practice, and policy of inequality, and its place in the modern world order.
The contributors take stock of the key concepts involved – capital, wealth and income, inequality, economic development, financialization – and evaluate the evidence for historical trends in existing national statistical data sources. To the developed economies upon which Piketty drew are added contributions covering Latin America, Africa, India, and Japan, providing a global perspective upon a global phenomenon.
The book seeks to provide readers with a deeper awareness and understanding of the significance of equality and inequality in economic development, the varying pace of economic change around the world, and the manner in which this process of change affects the distribution of wealth and inequality in diverse economies. The Contradictions of Capital in the Twenty-First Century; The Piketty Opportunity marks an important step in the process of developing Piketty's analytical framework and empirical material, overcoming its limitations and helping to cement a lasting place for inequality in the agenda of growth theory.
George Maier on LSE Blog wrote:
"Hudson and Tribe have, with their selection of authors, and their outstanding contributions, substantively re-launched the enquiry into inequalities. The essays have provided further opportunities to explore the potential links between economic history and economics, theoretical and empirical; to ask questions in a different way, rethink concepts and the nature of information; to go beyond what each discipline on its own can give, to tell another story.Their book could be a landmark collection."
Vincent Geloso on Economic History Association wrote:
"It is important to note from the beginning that the primary focus of the volume is economic. The book’s blurb describes its intention as ‘helping to cement a lasting place for inequality in the future agenda of economics and economic history’ – clearly positioning itself in relation to an economic lens. Despite claims within the book that a full understanding of inequality requires a ‘cultural, political and sociological approach as well as economic analysis’, no real space is given to these frameworks for understanding inequality, which will be a disappointment to some who wish to see inequality theorised and discussed in wider terms. [...] The real value of the collection is in the presentation of research opportunities. While The Contradictions of Capital in the Twenty-First Century offers little in the way of answers and suffered from a firmly drawn disciplinary boundary, dozens of original and important research questions can – with some work from the reader – be pulled from its pages. Furthermore, the book offers a useful background and guidance for those already researching inequality or those with a more casual interest. This makes the book somewhat useful for students and academics looking to design research projects at the forefront of the inequalities debate. Overall, Hudson and Tribe have edited an intellectually stimulating collection, while at the same time ensuring it is accessible to both interdisciplinary and non-academic audiences."
"While it is correct to question the measure of capital and the theory of capital behind it, the book more or less elides the deeper question about inequality. The book simply assumes that inequality tends to be detrimental to society and that there is a case for reducing it by state action. This is not necessarily true. [...] When one accepts the possibility that some inequalities are not detrimental, one must logically accept the need to decompose inequality and consider the possibility that the proposed firefighter (the state) is often the pyromaniac who started the blaze in the first place. Although the present book is informative about the existing interpretations (and their shortcomings) of inequality, while also being empirically inquisitive about the Piketty legacy (which in itself makes the book a worthy read), it falls one step shy of considering this salient prospect which is still unaddressed. As such, it does not fully live up to the promise made in its early pages, even if it does achieve some pretty good mileage."
Table of Contents of The Contradictions of Capital
- Introduction (Pat Hudson and Keith Tribe)
Part I: Categories
- Capital and Wealth (Geoff Harcourt, University of New South Wales and Keith Tribe)
- Incomes and Welfare (Francesco Boldizzoni, University of Turin)
- Inequality (Keith Tribe)
- Liberalism, Democracy, Money (Avner Offer, University of Oxford)
Part II: Piketty in Western National Contexts
- France (Gauthier Lanot, Umeå University)
- Germany (Jan-Otmar Hesse, University of Bielefeld)
- Sweden (Ylva Hasselberg & Henry Ohlsson, Uppsala University)
- USA (Mary O'Sullivan, University of Geneva)
- Britain (Jim Tomlinson, University of Glasgow)
Part III: Piketty: Global Commentaries
- Latin America (Luis Bertola, Universidad de la República, Uruguay)
- Africa (Patrick Manning & Matt Drwenski, University of Pittsburgh)
- Japan (Tetsuji Okazaki, University of Tokyo)
- India (Prasannan Parthasarathi, Boston College)
Part IV: Prospect
- Goals and Measures of Development (Pat Hudson)
- Wealth and Income Distribution (Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University & Ravi Kanbur, Cornell University)