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Concept, and the title of two different books, one by Grant McCracken, one by Juliet Schor

Concept Description

"Grant published Plenitude: Culture by Commotion in 1997, a book that is available online through Grant's site. In an August/September 1998 Reason article about the subject, adapted from his book, McCracken explains the concept as being derived from Plato. "But while the blooming, buzzing diversity that caught Plato's eye was a property of the natural world, our plenitude is a property of the social world. For us, plenitude is a matter of lifestyle, belief, behavior, and an ever-increasing variety of observable ways of living and being that are continually coming into existence. Plenitude is everywhere among us, especially in our culture and our politics, where it is the source of gross misunderstanding and profound conflict ... Plenitude is a restless creature. It will not forgive fixity. It will not endure stasis. It will not allow identity politics to insist on certain orthodoxies because these are 'good to think' and variously clarifying of what the emergent group might become. Plenitude resists conformity, orthodoxy, conventions, and rules," (

Book 1:

Available for online download at

"Plenitude is an account of the cultural origins and outcomes of diversity in American life. It is free for the downloading at this site.

Plenitude is a “drafty” book, open to comments and reader participation. It offers one of the few maps of the life forms that now exist in the teeming culture of the post modern world. I believe that we are witnessing an ethnographic version of Zeno’s paradox: that there is now almost as much cultural difference being inscribed in contemporary culture as exists between the cultures of the world.

The question, the one I believe the great French anthropologist, Emile Durkheim, would have asked, is this: how is this possible? How and why can one culture prove so astonishingly generative of this diversity? How can it continue to operate as a culture?" (

More Information

  • Culture by Commotion is a trilogy by Grant McCracken.

Availabe at

"Transformation takes up where Plenitude left off. It attempts to identify the four transformational engines that create the cultural innovation taking place in our social, cultural world. It is particularly devoted to the transformational routines that individuals use to “reinvent” themselves. There is, of course, frequent talk in the academic and popular literature about our transformational enthusiasms. Transformation attempts to specify what this reinvention is and how it works. Plenitude maps the great fluorescence of cultural innovation taking place in our culture. Transformation tries to identify some of the transformational grammars from which this comes." (

  • Commotion:

Advance essays available at

Book 2