Ideologies and Utopia

A Ricoeurian Reading of Thomas Piketty


  • Benoît Walraevens Université de Caen Normandie, France



In his most recent books, Piketty offers a global history of inequality in its economic, social, political, and intellectual dimensions, arguing that history is moved by the struggle of ideologies. To take part in this battle of ideas, he conceives a new ideal model of society, ‘participative socialism’, as an egalitarian alternative to the dominant neoproprietarian ideology and to the dangerous resurgence of nationalism and populism. This paper provides a new interpretation of Piketty’s view of history and of his participatory socialism in light of Paul Ricoeur’s study of the dialectics of ideology and utopia. First, I present Ricoeur’s singular analysis of ideology and utopia, which he sees as two inseparable facets of social imagination. Then I show how Ricoeur’s concepts can be fruitfully applied to Piketty’s conception of history and to his conception of a new form of socialism for the 21st century, drawing lessons from history and forming a ‘good’ or ‘realist’ utopia. Finally, I demonstrate that this interpretation of Piketty’s socialism can help to better understand some of the criticisms he has received.

Author Biography

Benoît Walraevens, Université de Caen Normandie, France

Benoît Walraevens is Assistant Professor in Economics at the Université de Caen Normandie's Center for Research in Economics and Management, Caen, France.




How to Cite

Walraevens, B. (2023). Ideologies and Utopia: A Ricoeurian Reading of Thomas Piketty. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 16(1), 1–27.