Social Accounting for Inequality: Applying Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Dale Tweedie*, James Hazelton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: This essay reviews the potential of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2014. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press) to inform social accounting research into economic inequality. Economic inequality is conceptually central to social accounting agendas, yet there has been surprisingly little accounting research in this area. Piketty's text can help build this research agenda by providing a systematic account of the growth and structure of economic inequality, especially since his analysis follows a similar underlying approach to influential texts in social and environmental accounting research. At the same time, the essay argues that social accountants can address limitations of Piketty's analysis, particularly by offering a more nuanced analysis of how economic inequality is embedded in corporate structures and practices. Thus, Piketty's text is not only a timely reminder of why the social distribution of economic resources matters, but also an invitation for social accountants to engage more fully in unfolding public debates about the future of resource distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-122
Number of pages10
JournalSocial and Environmental Accountability Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2015

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