The Pluralist, Fall 2013
This is a time when stabilized meanings have become unstable. No meaning is permanently stable. But there are periods when they can acquire a certain stability. The current global age that took off in the 1980s has unsettled many of the major social, economic, and political meanings of the preceding Keynesian era in the West. My concern is particularly with some of the major categories we use in the social sciences—economy, polity, society, justice, inequality, state, globalization, and immigration. These are all powerful categories that explain much about the realities they represent. Yet those realities are mutants—today’s concept of the economy dominated by finance and high tech is quite different from that of the Keynesian period dominated by mass manufacturing, mass consumption, and mass suburbanization.