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Hendrik Theine and Maria Rieder

Many societies around the world have witnessed a decisive trend towards an increasing inequality of income and wealth. A sign of economic inequality establishing a foothold in the realm of political and economic discourse was the surprise popularity of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century (Capital). This chapter looks at the print media treatment of Capital in four European countries. Using a critical discursive perspective on economics relations, we investigate discourses in Britain, Germany, Ireland and Austria specifically in relation to Piketty’s economic policy proposals to increase the taxation of wealth and income. We draw on the concept of legitimation as well as proximation to discuss the most commonly used argumentative strategies for and against Piketty’s proposals. Providing examples for each of the strategies, we show and critique the routinisation and conversationalisation of hegemonic discourse, demonstrating how boundaries between information and persuasion as well as ‘objective’ power relationships get blurred.