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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’.

The Foundation Economy Collective

technical policy for ‘steering the economy’ without recognising the broader context of Keynes’ thinking, especially in The End of Laissez Faire (1926), about the role of intermediary institutions which are outside 88 Foundational economy of the state and the market but play important roles in promoting social objectives. The aim of this chapter is to re-establish the connection between technical policy and political philosophy which has (despite spirited challenges) since been ossified by the tripartite academic division of labour between economics, politics and

in Foundational economy
The Foundation Economy Collective

numbers since privatisation owes more to GDP growth and London house prices than rail company marketing; capital investment in the privatised system was effectively state financed, and the resulting debt of more than £40 billion now sits on the government’s balance sheet. But it is also necessary to produce a broader narrative, which goes beyond refuting trade claims which are half-truths and de-contextualised misinformation. This narrative should present an analysis of the wrecking of the foundational economy: specifically, how and why things go wrong after

in Foundational economy
The Foundation Economy Collective

and unmetered household electricity connection: the official estimate is that 13% of all electricity 10 Foundational economy generated in Brazil is ‘stolen’ and it is as high as 30% in Amazonas state.5 The organisation of effective, universal providential services like health and education is as much of a challenge for many poor and middle-income countries. South Africa spends more than 5% of GDP on education (which is more than the EU average) but 27% of children cannot read after attending school for six years.6 The problems here are as much about organisation

in Foundational economy
Abstract only
Foundational matters
The Foundation Economy Collective

1 Introduction: foundational matters To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing. (Raymond Williams, Resources of Hope, 1989, p. 118) This book aims to change established ways of thinking about economy, society and politics. It argues that 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

in Foundational economy
The Foundation Economy Collective

-solving as analytic and sequential. As the opening quotation shows, Rittel and Webber wrote from what might be termed an end of history position on Renewing the foundational 117 what we call the foundational economy: they assumed that all the infrastructure had been built and the material problems of urban life had been solved. Hence the assertion that in the 1970s planners and policymakers would be moving on to tackle trickier problems in different domains. This triumphalism was premature. We now have a degraded foundational economy occupied by extractive predators

in Foundational economy
Afterword by Andy Haldane
Andy Haldane

evaluating policies which reshape these systems. In this role, units of measurement have been fundamental to scientific, and indeed societal, advance. When we turn to the social sciences, the units of measurement are less well-established and understood. There are rarely unified laws or agreed conventions. Instead there is custom and practice. This does not make the chosen units of measurement good or bad, right or wrong. But it does make them a point of debate and, sometimes, a bone of contention. This fascinating book, Foundational economy, can be seen as a contribution

in Foundational economy
Abstract only
There’s more than one show in town
Andrew Bowman, Ismail Ertürk, Julie Froud, Sukhdev Johal, and John Law

foundational economy. This is an infra economy producing mundane goods and services which is beneath notice for much of the time. • Second, we can take Braudel’s brilliant contrarian insight that capitalism is not only about the establishment of a free competitive market but also about entrenching an anti-­market (contre marché) system in which the state is the guarantor of a monopoly that benefits a few. Again, the nature and form of state intervention and the forms of monopoly need to be rethought for our times. To do this we reframe politics by returning to the idea of

in The end of the experiment?
Abstract only
Alex Schafran, Matthew Noah Smith, and Stephen Hall

example, a group of economists, whose focus is on what they call the ‘Foundational Economy’, argue specifically for more attention to be paid to the economies we rely on – health and care, electricity and water, the often overlooked ‘mundane’ economies that we need to survive but that aren’t seen to drive competitive economies. 23 In a series of publications, foundational economists have shown both how big and how important the foundational economy is, and how desperately we need a new approach to the political economy of these vital societal functions. 24 As

in The spatial contract
Imaginary, history and cases Introduction
Andrew Bowman, Ismail Ertürk, Julie Froud, Sukhdev Johal, and John Law

argument for a broader alternative vision in two specific respects. First, after thirty years of failure in tradable goods, we argue that the British need to focus on another, more mundane and sheltered economy which we call ‘the foundational economy’ which delivers everyday goods and services. Not only is this an economy that is overlooked in the present policy climate, but the sectoral cases show how it is being damaged by point value corporate business models. Second, we argue that the crucial obstacles to policy reforms that might develop the foundational economy are

in The end of the experiment?