The present volume is a sequel to two distinguished predecessors. Sixteen years have gone by since the publication of Continuity and Change in Contemporary Capitalism (1999), itself a follow-up to the earlier Order and Conflict in Contemporary Capitalism (1984). Both volumes took stock of major economic challenges advanced industrial democracies faced, as well as the ways political and economic elites understood and dealt with them by building institutions and enacting policies that ultimately shaped citizens' quality of life. But capitalism and democracy have not stood still. During the last decades, the structural environment of advanced capitalist democracies has undergone profound changes, linked most importantly to sweeping deindustrialization, accelerated tertiarization of the employment structure, and demographic developments. These changes have been accelerated and accentuated by the Great Recession, but their implications for the politics, policy strategies, and outcomes across advanced capitalist democracies can only be understood in a longer time horizon, which is the perspective we have adopted in this volume. Along the way, the analytical toolkit to understand these changes has gained in sophistication, complexity, and precision since the earlier volumes on which we build. New realities ask for new analytical tools and a periodic revision of the basic framework to understand cross-national differences and changes over time.
The present volume sets out to analyze the dynamics of contemporary advanced capitalism in the footsteps of the two earlier volumes. Our goal as editors has been to provide a synthetic view allowing the reader to grasp the nature of the current transformations. The volume is guided by a heuristic framework that takes as its point of departure the context of the structural transformations and proceeds to the politics of change, which, in turn, account for the governments' policy outputs and, ultimately, lead to outcomes that, on their part, contribute to the transformation of society.
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