The digital mess we’re in

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Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shape Collective Action, by Helen Margetts, Peter John, Scott Hale and Taha Yasseri. Princeton University Press. 304pp. £19.95.

Whenever asked to comment on contemporary events, it’s usually historians, rather than social scientists, who tend to suffer from what one might call an epistemological twitch: they strive to demonstrate that what is happening now has already – mutatis mutandis and with all the specificities of the epoch – happened before. A good part of their intellectual prowess is devoted to uncover this sometimes uncomfortable truth, so effectively camouflaged under the patina of the ‘new’. This has a collateral effect: the 
underlying, unobserved assumption that – whatever the phenomenon being analysed – its deceitful novelty is bound to beach like an agonising whale onto the ever-suspect, ideological shores of ‘it’s always been like this’, or, ‘it happened before’.
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The (Rotten) Legacy of Thatcherism

image.The Legacy of Thatcherism. Assessing and Exploring Thatcherite Social and Economic Policies, edited by Stephen Farrall and Colin Hay. Oxford University Press for the British Academy. 352 pp. £25.00.

The legacy of Thatcherism: how not to assess it? Even beyond the ‘Anglo-liberal’ shores, Margaret Thatcher is such a totemic figure that it could be argued—without fear of opprobrium—that the present British political settlement is still cast in a Thatcherite mould.

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