Cultural lag: a relevant framework for social justice
Richard L. Brinkman
June E. Brinkman
Purpose – This paper aims to show the interrelation and relevancy of the concept and theory of cultural lag to social justice. The conception of social justice, though wide in scope, is applied in this paper to the limited domain of equality of opportunity and fairness with respect to income distribution. Design/methodology/approach – The methodology of this paper is holistic and interdisciplinary, and interrelates the social and the economic in the overall dynamics of general culture evolution. Findings – The “inverted U-curve hypothesis” of Simon Kuznets implies that a greater equality of income distribution would be forthcoming in an economy characterized by a mature phase of modern economic growth. Empirical evidence demonstrates that such a movement toward greater equality is subject to question. The American experience of the 1920s and the period from 1973 to the present offers evidence to question the U-curve hypothesis. Contrary to expectations, during these periods income distribution became more unequal. These periods, indicative of maladjustment, are used to demonstrate and serve as examples of cultural lags. The concept and theory of cultural lag exposes the need for prerequisite institutional adjustment. It consequently appears that the American institutional structure, currently directing the economy toward a policy orientation of laissez-faire and the resulting increased inequality of income distribution, is anachronistic to a modern industrial society oriented toward the goal of social justice. Originality/value – Relevant to the quest of social justice.
Economics, Equality, Social justice, Wealth and income
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