The Mediation of Economic Inequality. Media Coverage of Piketty¿s Book `Capital in the 21st Century'

Project Details

Financing body

Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Jubiläumsfonds)


Thomas Piketty¿s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has proved to be something of a significant `media event¿ following its English translation in 2014. It has been hailed as ¿the publishing sensation of the year¿ because its ¿thesis of rising inequality tapped into the zeitgeist¿ and so ¿electrified the post-financial crisis public policy debate¿, even turning its French author into a ¿rock-star economist¿ (Financial Times, 23 May, 2014). For one, it is very rare indeed for someone to suddenly emerge from a rank-and-file professional profile in a specialist academic field to rapidly soar to top-rank celebrity status in the mainstream media. It is even more striking since the book comprises a quite media-unfriendly 700 pages and its core theme and content are focused on issues of economic inequality ¿ issues which have been far from popular in the agenda of news or current affairs media over the preceding decades. The book not only proved to be an unlikely international best-seller (winner of the 2014 Financial Times and McKinsey Business-Book-of-the-Year Award), but in fact was widely welcomed for speaking directly to the zeitgeist. Taking up this untypical media event, our research project aims to uncover the mediation of economic topics focusing on issues of inequality.
Our overall research question is:

How does mediation of economic topics work in the context of mass media?

As this needs to be specified, the core research question for this project is as follows:
Effective start/end date1/03/1630/09/17

Collaborative partners