Repository logo

Revisiting the ‘Great Levelling’: the limits of Piketty’s Capital and Ideology for understanding the rise of late 20th century inequality

Published version

Change log


Ramos Pinto, Pedro Ramos Pinto  ORCID logo
Paidipaty, Poornima 


In Capital and Ideology, Thomas Piketty returns to questions of historical inequality, not merely to fill in the gaps in the earlier, widely circulated and impactful Capital in the 21st Century, but to undertake a far more ambitious and nuanced project. Critics (Bhambra and Holmwood 2017; Moeller 2015) pointed out that in the previous book, Piketty’s consideration of the role of high concentrations wealth on inequality focused largely on a handful of relatively wealthy countries (the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan). More importantly, it did not consider the political and economic relationships, forged by European colonization and the trans-Atlantic slave trade, that helped create lasting inequalities in wealth, status, education and life expectancy around the globe. These oversights corresponded to significant methodological gaps, in which inequalities defined by social status and identity, including gender, race and caste, were largely left out of considerations that centred around economic and material disparities. Yet these different forms of inequalities are intimately connected, as gender wage gaps and racial wealth gaps in different parts of the world attest.



Inequality, Economic History, Modern European History, Global History

Journal Title

British Journal of Sociology

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/J001600/2)
Isaac Newton Trust (17.24(d))