A couple examples that might sound plausible to you:
- “In this economy, new college grads are at a disadvantage.”
- “In this economy, retirement is not possible.”
Built into the expression, “in this economy,” is the understanding that we are facing an economic situation where there’s little to no growth, unemployment is high, and poverty is on the rise. In sum, times are tough.
We can agree on what “in this economy” means, but why do we say, “in this economy?” It’s always interesting to think about what we’re choosing to say—and all the alternatives. What are we not saying? Why not say, “the current economic situation?” Why not say, “recession” or “depression,” or “crisis?”
Linguists look at a phrase like “in this economy” and notice the word “this.” It’s a term that reflects “deixis,” or situates the phrase in space and time. Depending on the speaker and the context, terms like “this” and “that” attach themselves to different meanings.
In the expression, “in this economy,” the word “this” does two things:
- It keeps the economy “physically” close to the speaker. It’s very personal. It’s nearby.
- It talks about the present and maybe even the near future. It’s now. It’s tomorrow. It’s probably not going to change in the short-term.
Saying “in this economy” is different from saying “current economy,” which speaks to a time in place (now) and presumes that, with time, the economic situation might change.
To what extent is how we think about the economy shaped by the currency of the phrase “in this economy?”
(I am not crazy enough to think that an economic crisis can pass with a slight mindset/language change, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.)