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The well-being of Europe’s citizens depends less on individual consumption and more on their social consumption of essential goods and services – from water and retail banking to schools and care homes – in what we call the foundational economy. Individual consumption depends on market income, while foundational consumption depends on social infrastructure and delivery systems of networks and branches, which are neither created nor renewed automatically, even as incomes increase. This historically created foundational economy has been wrecked in the last generation by privatisation, outsourcing, franchising and the widespread penetration of opportunistic and predatory business models. The distinctive, primary role of public policy should therefore be to secure the supply of basic services for all citizens (not a quantum of economic growth and jobs). Reconstructing the foundational has to start with a vision of citizenship that identifies foundational entitlements as the conditions for dignified human development, and likewise has to depend on treating the business enterprises central to the foundational economy as juridical persons with claims to entitlements but also with responsibilities and duties. If the aim is citizen well-being and flourishing for the many not the few, then European politics at regional, national and EU level needs to be refocused on foundational consumption and securing universal minimum access and quality. If/when government is unresponsive, the impetus for change has to come from engaging citizens locally and regionally in actions which break with the top down politics of ‘vote for us and we will do this for you’.

Don Slater

are ‘less material’ but because the social materiality of the good has become a battleground under conditions of detraditionalisation and pluralisation. There is a wider range of alternative categorisations of goods; all categorisations appear provisional; and producers, retailers and consumers are all aware of both this diversity and its provisional character, and they see it as a legitimate object of their own interventions through which they stabilise or dispute categorisations of things. Disembedded goods and system complexity We could regard early modern corn

in Market relations and the competitive process
Abstract only
Thoreau in the city
Alison Hulme

resistant practice. Resistant, not necessarily in a clichéd anti-​capitalist way, but in a way that genuinely seeks huge changes in the logic behind society’s running. Key to this idealism and wilful naivety is the desire and vision to remove thrift from moralising individualistic rationales and make it more communal; in short, to make it a tool in new structures of social solidarity. The reclamation of thrift must, then, be one that removes it from moralistic historical discourses  –​both early modern and contemporary. Its linkages to ‘moral behaviour’, whether through

in A brief history of thrift
The Foundation Economy Collective

was in empirically resourceful and conceptually minimalist research, we did not turn to theorised political economy but to the economic and social history of Fernand Braudel. In the 1970s, Braudel had faced a similar problem about how to challenge historians who wanted to rewrite the economic history of the early modern period as the history of GDP growth and the market dynamic which delivered Western industrialism and imperialism. In the first volume of Civilization and Capitalism, Braudel (1981) described the ‘structures of everyday life’, arguing that from the

in Foundational economy
The Foundation Economy Collective

by early modern European monarchs. Charles I in England after 1629 sold staple and semi-luxury monopolies like salt, soap and currants; while Louis XIV in France after 1688 sold not just offices but the right to perform commercial functions. The sole driver here was financial embarrassment, which made it attractive to create capital value out of established sources of state income: Charles’ sale of staple monopolies in the 1630s was simply ‘the line of least resistance’ when Parliament would not vote tax revenues as income for the king (McColvin 2012, p. 34; Hill

in Foundational economy
Bill Dunn

evidence was overwhelmingly either British or American. Even then, national policy was constrained, particularly with the use of gold as an international standard. But there are shifting dynamics of state and private capital’s power, while claims of state authority over money and the idea of specifically national money come closer to the truth for leading economies than for weaker ones. Up to the early modern period, few states established exclusive state money, while rulers paid more to borrow than private capitalists, a priority reversed at least until very recently

in Keynes and Marx