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The perils of leaving economics to the experts

One hundred years ago the idea of ‘the economy’ didn’t exist. Now, improving ‘the economy’ has come to be seen as one of the most important tasks facing modern societies. Politics and policymaking are increasingly conducted in the language of economics and economic logic increasingly frames how political problems are defined and addressed. The result is that crucial societal functions are outsourced to economic experts. The econocracy is about how this particular way of thinking about economies and economics has come to dominate many modern societies and its damaging consequences. We have put experts in charge but those experts are not fit for purpose.

A growing movement is arguing that we should redefine the relationship between society and economics. Across the world, students, the economists of the future, are rebelling against their education. From three members of this movement comes a book that tries to open up the black box of economic decision making to public scrutiny. We show how a particular form of economics has come to dominate in universities across the UK and has thus shaped our understanding of the economy. We document the weaknesses of this form of economics and how it has failed to address many important issues such as financial stability, environmental sustainability and inequality; and we set out a vision for how we can bring economic discussion and decision making back into the public sphere to ensure the societies of the future can flourish.

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provision, then democratic determinations and collective solutions are disparaged. Also, the melding of notions of ‘citizenship’ with the status of ‘a consumer’, which Burgess (2001) shows is increasingly a feature within the European Union, individuates people, inviting them to weigh their personal interests rather than those of any collectivity. Fourth, and associated, the free running of competitive markets tends to create inequalities which undermine principles of equality, particularly social equality which Marshall (1950) saw as the foundation of citizenship in the

in Market relations and the competitive process
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Making do, rationing and nostalgic austerity

’ sprung up particularly in the South. War bonds were promoted as ‘an obligation of citizenship, as a way of honoring the sacrifices of America’s fighting men, and as an expression of 75 Nationalist thrift 75 national and intergenerational solidarity’ (Adatto, 2011:383). Campaigns to encourage take-​up of war bonds were organised door-​to-​door and in workplaces, via the ‘minute men’ and ‘minute women’ who were known as ‘victory volunteers’, as well as through national media campaigns and Hollywood (stars such as Humphrey Bogart and Betty Grable). Adatto says, ‘the

in A brief history of thrift

promote the formation of active citizenship from a young age; subjects such as citizenship are often not taught or when they are, they are often not viewed as adequate qualifications for gaining entry to university. Workshops and courses could also be run for adults in community centres and universities, and through civil society and religious groups, addressing economic issues that are relevant locally and giving people the substantive economic literacy necessary to engage with economic discourse. The second key shift needed for thin democracy to function is the

in The econocracy

-century Britain, or to challenge and question accepted norms as Socrates did in Greece.5 In our view, both the transmission of civilisation, culture and common standards of citizenship as well as the encouragement of original, critical thinking are important parts of any educational philosophy. Finding ways to do both is one of the great challenges of any form of education. So what are the core principles of a liberal education? All versions of liberal education reject instrumental approaches, narrowly defined as training for work. Whereas in training success has been achieved

in The econocracy

responsible for supporting it, and for governing and monitoring education at least broadly, although some would argue that private schools ought to play a significant role in provision. Social cohesion and human rights Education also is an example of the kind of goods and services that, under the third body of theorising identified here, is considered a basic human right, or right of citizenship, and thus which ought to be available to all, independently of their money income or wealth or social status. Thus all citizens ought to have the right to vote, to trial by jury

in Market relations and the competitive process
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level creates an impenetrable wall of confusion between its workings and our lives. On the other hand, many aspects of our lives are embedded in and dependent upon the wider economic system. The barrier that prevents us understanding the economy and participating in economic debate doesn’t shield us from its consequences. A movement to open economics and reinvigorate democracy The devaluation of citizenship at the heart of econocracy forms the backdrop to the recent rise in populist political movements across Europe and the US. Many of these movements have developed

in The econocracy