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Inequality in the 21st Century

Joint conference with the LSE Department of Sociology and the British Journal of Sociology.

A day long conference with Thomas Piketty, Centennial Professor at the III whose Capital in the Twenty-First Century has been of global significance in shaping debates about inequality.

This conference was the official launch of the III, taking place on May 11th 2015 in four sessions:

Economics, Political Economy and Democracy

Piketty raises central questions about wealth accumulation and inequality in the second half of the twentieth century and in the twenty-first. However, his model says little about political economy. This raises the interesting question of whether the grand laws of economics operate in a political vacuum, given that we see great differences in the degree of inequality across advanced countries, for example the Scandinavian countries in contrast to the Anglo-Saxon. 


  • Stuart Corbridge, LSE Provost.
  • David Soskice, School Professor of Political Science and Economics at the LSE.
  • Wendy Carlin,  is Professor of Economics at UCL, Research Fellow of CEPR, and member of the Expert Advisory Panel of the UK's Office for Budget Responsibility. 
  • Bob Rowthorn, is Emeritus Professor of Economics at Cambridge and a Life Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge.  

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Gender and Everyday Life

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st century highlights the magnitude of contemporary inequality, how it has come about, why it matters, and what might be done about it. Introducing a feminist perspective enhances his analysis by not only pointing to the gendered composition of contemporary inequality but by introducing an inter-disciplinary perspective capable of examining the multiple ways in which inequalities are naturalised, legitimated and experienced in everyday life.


  • Diane Perrons, Professor of Economic Geography and Gender Studies and Director of the Gender Institute at the LSE.
  • Stephanie Seguino, Professor of Economics at the University of Vermont, USA.
  • Lisa McKenzie, research fellow in the Department of Sociology at the LSE, working on issues of social inequality and class stratification through ethnographic research.
  • Naila Kabeer, Professor of Gender and Development at the LSE Gender Institute.
  • Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

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Accumulation and Timespaces of Class

Piketty puts the issue of accumulation through time at the heart of his analysis of capital. But how might we extend his quantitative measurement of accumulation into an analysis of unequal relationships of class? Social science approaches since Bourdieu have argued that various capitals (economic, social and cultural) acquired over time and built into spatial infrastructures produce inequality and the relational experience of class. In this panel we will extend these theories in dialogue with Piketty’s recent findings to develop a critical approach to tracking various capitals and their timespace qualities. 


  • Dr. Laura Bear, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the LSE
  • Gareth Jones, Professor of Urban Geography at the LSE
  • Mike Savage, Martin White Professor, Head of Department of Sociology at the LSE, and Co-Director, LSE International Inequalities Institute 

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The Policy Implications

Piketty bravely directly enters into discussions about policy, notably through his concerns with the wealth tax. What other kinds of interventions might be possible? What are the wider ramifications of his arguments and those of related researchers?


  • Professor Julia Black, Pro-Director of Research, LSE. 
  • Sir John Hills is Professor of Social Policy and Director of the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) at the LSE, and Co-Director, LSE International Inequalities Institute.
  • Professor Sir Tony Atkinson, Centennial Professor, LSE, and Honorary Fellow, Nuffield College Oxford.
  • Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

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Read the special conference issue of the British Journal of Sociology.