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The Economic Surplus as a Fund for Social Change and Postneoliberal Governance


  • Mary Wrenn


The central problem in capitalism today is not one of scarce resources clashing against innate, insatiable wants. Rather, the modern problem of monopoly capitalism is one of abundance of production clashing against scarcity of consumers. Indeed, sustaining growth while fighting against excess capacity proves to be the biggest battle in business today, fought by the capitalist power structure with the tools of neoliberalism and globalization. The economic surplus, roughly sketched, represents that gap between productive resources and consumption, and thus represents the abundance that is possible given current technology. The argument set forth is that the economic surplus remains a powerful tool in describing economic relationships and social justice issues within the context of the Great Capitalist Restoration, but more importantly, that the economic surplus represents a tool for social change. The potential for socially just amelioration and change within post-neoliberal governance is explored with explicit reference to the qualitative and instrumental framework proposed by Ron Stanfield in his somewhat overlooked but incredibly important piece, “The Fund for Social Change” (1992).

Suggested Citation

  • Mary Wrenn, 2011. "The Economic Surplus as a Fund for Social Change and Postneoliberal Governance," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(1), pages 99-117, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:fosoec:v:40:y:2011:i:1:p:99-117
    DOI: 10.1007/s12143-010-9071-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Ronald Stanfield & Mary Wrenn, 2005. "John Kenneth Galbraith and original institutional economics," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(1), pages 26-45.
    2. repec:mes:jeciss:v:11:y:1977:i:1:p:61-71 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Ron Stanfield, 1974. "A Revision of the Economic Surplus Concept," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 6(3), pages 69-74, October.
    4. Victor D. Lippit, 1985. "The Concept of the Surplus in Economic Development," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 17(1-2), pages 1-19, March.
    5. Rapp, Richard T., 1976. "The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century. By Immanuel Wallerstein. Studies in Social Discontinuity. New York: Academic Pre," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(03), pages 801-803, September.
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