In The Return of Inequality: Social Change and the Weight of the Past, sociologist Mike Savage argues that time and history have to be taken more seriously by scholars of social inequality. Understanding 21st century inequality needs to go beyond considering the differential relationships between people and acknowledge the balance of present-day actions against the weight of past forces. Contemporary capitalism is not new, dynamic, and turbo-charged; it is marked by the entrenchment of inherited privilege and the renewal of empire in a post-colonial world.
Savage shows how economic inequality aggravates cultural, social, and political conflicts, challenging the coherence of liberal democratic nation-states. Put simply, severe inequality returns societies to the past by fracturing social bonds and harnessing the democratic process to the strategies of a resurgent aristocracy of the wealthy, inequality revives political conditions that had been considered part of the past. He, therefore, offers an altogether bleaker and more disturbing view which questions the contemporary fixation with novelty and innovation.
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