These days, the seminars and conferences I attend span a set of pressing concerns − populist politics, regulating tech giants, the fragility of European institutions, environmental degradation or generational disparities. Of late, they have all tended to converge on a single endpoint: no matter where we start we always land on the need for a new ‘social contract’.
The term used to be a staple of liberal discussions, but it had fallen out of favour. Now it can feel like the political equivalent of balsamic vinegar − once a condiment of appropriate exception, now ladled over everything. Our collective return to the term says much about our shared hopes and fears.