Twenty-First Century Inequality & Capitalism: Piketty, Marx and Beyond


Twenty-First Century Inequality & Capitalism: Piketty, Marx and Beyond is a collection that begins with economist Thomas Piketty’s 2014 book. Most chapters critique Piketty from the perspective of critical theory, global political economy or public sociology, drawing on the work of Karl Marx or the Marxist tradition. The emphasis focuses on elements that are under-theorized or omitted entirely from the economists’ analysis. This includes the importance of considering class and labor dynamics, the recent rise of finance capitalism, insights from feminism, demography, and conflict studies, the Frankfurt School, the world market and the world-system, the rise of a transnational capitalist class, the coming environmental catastrophe, etc. Our goal is to fully understand and suggest action to address today’s capitalist inequality crisis. Contributors are: Robert J. Antonio, J.I. (Hans) Bakker, Roslyn Wallach Bologh, Alessandro Bonnano, Christopher Chase-Dunn, Harry F. Dahms, Eoin Flaherty, Daniel Krier, Basak Kus, Lauren Langman, Dana Marie Louie, Peter Marcuse, Sandor Nagy, Charles Reitz, William I. Robinson, Saskia Sassen, David A. Smith, David N. Smith, Tony Smith, Michael Thompson, Sylvia Walby, Erik Olin Wright.
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Biographical Note

Lauren Langman is a Professor of Sociology at the Loyola University of Chicago. He has long worked in the tradition of the Frankfurt School with special concern with the impact of political economy in shaping character, identity and desire, national character, hegemony and social movements, especially global justice movements. He is past president of RC 36, Alienation Research of the International Sociological Association (ISA), chair of the Marxist section of the American Sociological Assocation (ASA) and recipient of its lifetime achievement award. David A. Smith is a Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Irvine. His research focuses on global commodity chains, world cities and the political economy of the world-system. He is Editor of the International Journal of Comparative Sociology.

Table of contents

Preface Acknowledgements List of Figures and Tables Notes on Contributors Introduction Lauren Langman and David A. Smith Part 1. Broad Reviews and Critiques 1 Class and Inequality in Piketty Eric Olin Wright 2 Vautrin’s Lesson: Historical Trends, Universal Challenges, and Policy Responses Basak Kus and Dana Louie 3 Turning Piketty into a Sociologist? Sylvia Walby 4 Predatory Logics: Going Well beyond Inequality Saskia Sassen 5 Complex Inequalities in the Age of Financialisation: Piketty, Marx, and Class-Biased Power Resources Eoin Flaherty 6 Piketty and Patrimonialism: A Frankfurt School Critique of Piketty’s Use of Marx, Weber, Political Economy, and Comparative Historical Sociology J. I. (Hans) Bakker 7 The Missing Element in Piketty’s Work Roslyn Wallach Bologh 8 Critical Theory, Radical Reform, and Planetary Sociology: Between Impossibility and Inevitability Harry F. Dahms Part 2. Inequality 9 Beyond Piketty’s Economism: History, Culture, and the Critique of Inequality Daniel Krier and Kevin S. Amidon 10 Accounting for Inequality: Questioning Piketty on National Income Accounts and the Capital-Labor Split Charles Reitz 11 The Political Dimensions of Economic Division: Republicanism, Social Justice, and the Evaluation of Economic Inequality Michael J. Thompson Part 3. Global Inequality 12 Piketty on the World Market and Inequality within Nations Tony Smith 13 Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century: Global Inequality, Piketty, and the Transnational Capitalist Class William I. Robinson 14 The Piketty Challenge: Global Inequality and World Revolutions Christopher Chase-Dunn and Sandor Nagy 15 Global Inequality, Competition, Uncertainty, and the Legitimation Crisis of Neoliberalism Alessandro Bonanno 16 The Piketty Thesis and the Environmental Wall: Rentier Society, Post-Carbon Democracy, or Apocalyptic Ruin? Robert J. Antonio 17 The Adventures of Professor Piketty: In Which We Meet the Intrepid Data-Hunter Thomas Piketty and Hear His Startling Story David Norman Smith with art by Tom Johnson 18 21st Century Capital: Falling Profit Rates and System Entropy Postscript to “The Adventures of Professor Piketty” David Norman Smith 19 From Inequality to Social Justice Peter Marcuse Conclusion: Capitalism, Contradiction, and Crisis Lauren Langman and David A. Smith Index


All students and academics interested in contemporary inequality and social problems in both the humanities and social sciences, but also the educated general public.