One of the fault lines within political economy is between theorists of continuity and theorists of discontinuity. The former argue that current institutions are a continuation of the past with only superficial changes. The latter argue that big changes are occurring and that our conceptual frameworks need to be revised accordingly. This division does not align with a left-to-right political axis; there are conservative and radical versions of both theories. Radical theorists of continuity argue, for example, that despite the apparent changes in capitalism, it is still the same system of class oppression. In contrast, radical theorists of discontinuity argue that new circumstances provide opponents of capitalism with opportunities if they are willing to adopt new analyses and strategies.
Bennett Harrison has written a book that defies easy categorization: he combines both types of positions in a way that is sometimes illuminating and sometimes unsatisfying. Lean and Mean: The Changing Landscape of Corporate Power in the Age of Flexibility is primarily an analysis of the large corporation. The decline of such firms as IBM, General Motors, and Sears has led some commentators to suggest that the era of the giant corporation might be over....
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