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The Affluent Society Revisited$
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Mike Berry

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199686506

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199686506.001.0001

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The Power of Ideas: Reflections on the Conventional Wisdom

The Power of Ideas: Reflections on the Conventional Wisdom

(p.7) 2 The Power of Ideas: Reflections on the Conventional Wisdom
The Affluent Society Revisited

Mike Berry

Oxford University Press

This chapter looks at Galbraith’s famous discussion of ‘the conventional wisdom’, a phrase that has entered the realm of policy discourse and the general language. An argument is made that the notion of the conventional wisdom provides a crucial platform for the substantive contributions of The Affluent Society (AS). In this, as in so much else in the book, he builds on the directions laid down by John Maynard Keynes. Both economists searched for a language to persuade public and policymakers that the economic theory and policies of their day failed to address the emerging realities of the time. The conventional wisdom, Galbraith argues, is not overthrown by other ideas but by the remorseless accumulation of facts. This enduring truth has been amply tested by recent economic catastrophe – and the jury is still out.

Keywords:   conventional wisdom, ideas, vested interest, the corporation, neoliberalism, Washington consensus, power

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