Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World

Denis Galligan, Emeritus Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, Oxford
Christopher Decker, Economist and Research Fellow, Faculty of Law, Oxford
Eric Heinze, Professor of Law and Humanities, Queen Mary University London

A panel chaired by Emeritus Professor Denis Galligan assess the relative merits of the huge increases in global wealth in recent centuries against increasing social inequality. Prof Galligan is joined by Profs Christopher Decker and Eric Heinze to discuss Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World, which celebrates the oft-derided virtues of the bourgeoisie, arguing that it is their entrepreneurial spirit that drove the huge increase in wealth, or Great Enrichment of the past two centuries. 

The panel find some difficulties with the thesis that we must accept inequality as an inevitable consequence of the capitalist pursuit of personal enrichment, and question the author's belief that relative poverty is less important than absolute poverty, especially in a digital age of globalized, interconnected citizens. 

They argue that, by fostering an environment in which trade is free to flourish unimpeded by regulatory restraint, grave injustices can result, as in the case of Grenfell Tower fire in London, which is cited during the audience Q&A as an example of the adverse consequences of deep-rooted inequality.