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Take Back the Economy

Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities

J. K. Gibson-Graham
Jenny Cameron
Stephen Healy
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 264
  • Book Info
    Take Back the Economy
    Book Description:

    In the wake of economic crisis on a global scale, more and more people are reconsidering their role in the economy and wondering what they can do to make it work better for humanity and the planet. In this innovative book, J. K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron, and Stephen Healy contribute complex understandings of economics in practical terms: what can we do right now, in our own communities, to make a difference?

    Full of exercises, thinking tools, and inspiring examples from around the world,Take Back the Economyshows how people can implement small-scale changes in their own lives to create ethical economies. There is no manifesto here, no one prescribed model; rather, readers are encouraged and taught how to take back the economy in ways appropriate for their own communities and context, using what they already have at hand.

    Take Back the Economydismantles the idea that the economy is separate from us and best comprehended by experts. Instead, the authors demonstrate that the economy is the outcome of the decisions and efforts we make every day. The economy is thus reframed as a space of ethical action-something we can shape and alter according to what is best for the well-being of people and the planet. The book explores what people are already doing to build ethical economies, presenting these deeds as mutual concerns: What is necessary for survival, and what do we do with the surplus produced beyond what will fulfill basic needs? What do we consume, and how do we preserve and replenish the commons-those resources that can be shared to maintain all? And finally, how can we invest in a future worth living in?

    Suitable for activists and students alike,Take Back the Economywill be of interest to anyone seeking a more just, sustainable, and equitable world.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8444-1
    Subjects: Business, Economics, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Take Back the Economy Why Now?
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)

    This book rests on the following premise: our economy is the outcome of the decisions we make and the actions we take. We might be told that there’s an underlying logic, even a set of natural principles, that direct how economies operate, but most of us can see that the decisions and actions of governments and corporations have a lot to do with how economies shape up. Encouraged by the idea that we can build the economies we live in, individuals and communities across the globe are taking economic matters into their own hands to help create worlds that are...

  5. 1. Reframing the Economy, Reframing Ourselves
    (pp. 1-16)

    If we are to believe the evening TV news, our lives are dictated by the state of the economy. Our fortunes rest with how well governments manage the economy and how much scope businesses are given to grow the economy. Economists have become the soothsayers of the modern world, predicting what will happen as interest rates rise and fall, currencies are valued and devalued, and export and domestic markets expand and contract. The economy, it seems, is an ordered machine that governs our lives.

    It’s even a machine whose interactions have been captured in working models. At the end of...

  6. 2. Take Back Work Surviving Well
    (pp. 17-48)

    Work is what we do for a living—it’s what we do to survive. Work gives us an identity. It’s a way of defining who we are. When we meet people for the first time, we usually want to know what they do for a living. We’re interested in how much they are paid and what status is attached to their position.

    Work has the potential to be a source of great pleasure and meaning—it can be where intellectual and practical challenges are posed and met, where we can create new things, use our ingenuity, interact with others, and...

  7. 3. Take Back Business Distributing Surplus
    (pp. 49-84)

    Businesses are organizations in which goods and services are produced and exchanged. They are where entrepreneurs and workers transform resources, technology, and labor into something new. The mainstream message is that business is the font of economic growth from which wealth and well-being flow.

    Despite this rhetoric, most business is not primarily organized around producing for the greater good. To use a familiar phrase, “Business is about problem-solving at a profit.” It is the desire for profits that fuels dedication—even obsession—especially on the part of business owners.

    Although for some, business is a source of great individual reward,...

  8. 4. Take Back the Market Encountering Others
    (pp. 85-124)

    In complex societies we rely on a vast number of other people for the goods and services we need to survive. We acquire many of these goods and services via “the market.” In today’s world, markets have assumed a peculiar power. They are heralded as the ideal system for coordinating complex transactions between producers and consumers. Price setting is the hallowed technique whereby supply is calibrated to meet demand. It’s simple. If supply increases but demand is stable, prices go down and demand expands. If demand rises and supply can’t keep up, prices rise and demand stabilizes—that is, until...

  9. 5. Take Back Property Commoning
    (pp. 125-158)

    Property usually refers to all the things we own and use in order to survive well. If we’re lucky we own a home and a car, as well as an array of other material bits and pieces—the “stuff” that gives us comfort, status, identity, and pleasure. If we’re businesspeople, our property might include all the things our business needs to operate successfully—whether it’s the merchandise we sell or the land, plant, and equipment that make up a production facility.

    When we think of property we inevitably think of private property, the legal mechanism that gives us the right...

  10. 6. Take Back Finance Investing in Futures
    (pp. 159-188)

    The finance sector with its flighty financial markets has become our oracle of economic health. Every night on the TV news, graphs and figures showing currency fluctuations or the Dow Jones index are deciphered by economic commentators who tell us what we can and cannot expect of the future.

    Since the beginning of the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2007, people all over the world have had to confront the fact that our lives are touched by an economic reality called finance. Some have lost jobs and houses because of the GFC, and others have seen their pension savings evaporate....

  11. Any Time, Any Place …
    (pp. 189-198)

    In this book we have taken back the economy by reframing it as a space of ethical action rather than a machine that must be obeyed. We have taken back work, business, markets, property, and finance and shown how, together, we can act to make a different future.

    We have opened up the possibility of building community economies shaped by negotiation around the key concerns of

    survivingtogether well and equitably

    distributing surplusto enrich social and environmental health

    encountering othersin ways that support their well-being as well as ours


    caring for—maintaining, replenishing, and growing—our...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 199-214)
  13. Index
    (pp. 215-222)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-223)