This book revisits John Kenneth Galbraith's classic text The Affluent Society in the context of the background to, and causes of, the global economic crisis that erupted in 2008. Each chapter takes a major theme of Galbraith's book, distils his arguments, and then discusses to what extent they cast light on current developments, both in developed economies and in the economics discipline. The themes include: inequality, insecurity, inflation, debt, consumer behaviour, financialization, the economic role of government ('social balance'), the power of ideas, the role of power in the economy, and the nature of the good society. It considers the current problems of capitalism and the huge challenges facing democratic governments in tackling them. Written in non-technical language, this book is accessible to students of economics and the social sciences as well as to those who would have read The Affluent Society and the general reader interested in contemporary affairs and public policy.
Mike Berry is Emeritus Professor at RMIT University, Melbourne Australia, where he was for many years Professor of Urban Studies and Public Policy. He is a frequent adviser to state and federal governments in Australia and has had visiting positions at a number of international institutions, including Rutgers University, Lund University, the University of Cambridge, and the University Sussex. He was Foundation Executive Director of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, the largest and longest continuing collaborative research facility in Australian social and policy sciences. He has taught, and published widely, in the areas of housing, urban planning, environmental policy, and political economy. He is a director of one of Australia's largest non-profit housing associations. Part of the research for this book was carried out whilst he was a visiting fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation Center, Bellagio.
Preface ; 1. Why Revisit The Affluent Society? ; 2. The Power of Ideas: Reflections on the Conventional Wisdom ; 3. The Central Tradition ; 4. Inequality ; 5. Economic Security ; 6. The Ambiguities of Production ; 7. The Dethroned Consumer ; 8. Inflation ; 9. Debt ; 10. The Theory of Social Balance ; 11. Switching Tracks ; 12. The Idea of Power ; 13. The Moral Order ; 14. Concluding Thoughts ; A Reader's Guide