Keywords for the Age of Austerity 1: Innovation


“Keywords for the Age of Austerity” is an occasional series on the  vocabulary of inequality. Certain words, as Raymond Williams wrote in his classic Keywords, bind together ways of seeing culture and society. These shared meanings change over time, shaping and reflecting the society in which they are made. Some of the words I will consider here are old, seemingly innocent terms that have acquired a particular fashion or developed a particular new meaning in recent years; others are recent coinages. All of them relate to to an affinity for hierarchy and a celebration of the virtues of the marketplace, of competition, and of the virtual technologies of our time. This series will explore the historical meanings embedded in these words as well as the new meanings that our age has given them.

Care to suggest a word? Send me a message or a tweet at me.

This is the first entry, on the modern virtue of innovation.

Innovation (n); innovate (v., trans. or intrans.); innovative (adj.).

The contemporary ubiquity of “Innovation” is an example of how the world of business, despite its claims of rationality and empirical precision, also summons its own enigmatic mythologies.

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