Structuralism as a social science discipline offers key insights in how social, historical and political contexts shape the lives of individuals and communities. Octogenarians living in America will recall the acute poverty and disarray that their parents faced during the Great Depression. Likewise, Baby Boomers will reminisce on the economic prosperity and social progress that they witnessed during their formative years. These events and circumstances do leave a mark on their personalities. Going further back into European Continental history, the great Bubonic Plague of the 13th century wiped out a third of the then population. In this vein, one could expect the current protracted slowdown in the economy, referred to by analysts as the Great Recession, will play a defining role in molding the tastes, choices and lifestyles of people of this era.
The current global economic slowdown is equal in scale to some of the major historical events mentioned above. As a differentiator, this event is having an impact all across the globe rather than being isolated by geography. For business leaders, discretionary budgeting and prioritizing expenses has become the mantra. Politicians and policy makers are focusing on austerity measures to bring the economy to stability. Youth unemployment is at an all-time high across countries. Some economies like that of Spain, Greece, etc are on the brink of collapse. Even the education system is affected as tuition fee is becoming ever steep. In this atmosphere of limited economic resources, we can expect people from all walks of life to internalize an attitude of judicial and prudent spending. The consumerist culture that peaked during the 1990s may never see such glory days again, as ‘conservation’ replaces ‘conspicuous consumption’ as the new catchword. All this may not be for the worse, after all, for it might force people to look at and take solace from other facets of life than the merely material. As a by-product of the Great Recession, people might develop their spiritual side and display a compassionate and co-operative disposition. In this regard, the current global economic slowdown could prove to be a blessing in disguise.