This chapter interrogates Galbraith’s large claim that economic inequality is declining in social and political importance in societies undergoing the transformation to affluence. Developments over the past 30 years, however, have undercut each of the key forces he identified as resolving tensions over inequality and distributive justice. Indeed, inequality has increased as a fact and poses new social and political tensions threatening the cohesion and prosperity of developed societies like the US. The problems of poverty and discrimination are proving far more widespread and intractable than Galbraith originally thought and may be contributing to the scale and severity of economic crises in the advanced economies.
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