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The Ethical Economy

The Ethical Economy: Rebuilding Value After the Crisis

Adam Arvidsson
Nicolai Peitersen
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    The Ethical Economy
    Book Description:

    A more ethical economic system is now possible, one that rectifies the crisis spots of our current downturn while balancing the injustices of extreme poverty and wealth. Adam Arvidsson and Nicolai Peitersen, a scholar and an entrepreneur, outline the shape such an economy might take, identifying its origins in innovations already existent in our production, valuation, and distribution systems.

    Much like nineteenth-century entrepreneurs, philosophers, bankers, artisans, and social organizers who planned a course for modern capitalism that was more economically efficient and ethically desirable, we now have a chance to construct new instruments, institutions, and infrastructure to reverse the trajectory of a quickly deteriorating economic environment. Considering a multitude of emerging phenomena, Arvidsson and Peitersen show wealth creation can be the result of a new kind of social production, and the motivation of continuous capital accumulation can exist in tandem with a new desire to maximize our social impact.

    Arvidsson and Peitersen argue that financial markets could become a central arena in which diverse ethical concerns are integrated into tangible economic valuations. They suggest that such a common standard has already emerged and that this process is linked to the spread of social media, making it possible to capture the sentiment of value to most people. They ultimately recommend how to build upon these developments to initiate a radical democratization of economic systems and the value decisions they generate.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52643-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Business, Philosophy, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xviii)
    (pp. xix-xxii)
  5. 1 Value Crisis
    (pp. 1-20)

    In the most dramatic moments of Italy’s debt crisis, the newly installed “technical” government, led by Mario Monti, appealed to trade unions to accept salary cuts in the name of national solidarity. Monti urged them to participate in a collective effort to increase the competitiveness of the Italian economy (or at least to show that efforts were being made in that direction) in order to calm international investors and “the market” and, hopefully, reduce the spread between the interest rates of Italian and German bonds (at the time around 500 points, meaning that the Italian government had to refinance its...

  6. 2 Intangibles
    (pp. 21-48)

    During his first year at Sweden’s Lund University, one of the authors of this book was exposed to a classic of Swedish managerial science, Albert Danielsson’s Företagsekonomi.¹ A basic book in business administration, it depicted companies as closed-off and secluded boxes that process neatly defined inputs (raw materials, labor time) into equally neatly defined outputs (cars, furniture) and thereby create value. The book was written in the 1970s, when Danielsson was professor of industrial organization at the Royal College of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, and its outlook was clearly marked by the Swedish model of postwar industrial development, centered on...

  7. 3 Publics
    (pp. 49-80)

    Productive publics, a fundamental building block of the ethical economy, are voluntary associations of strangers who are united by their devotion to a common project or pursuit, like open-source software, urban agriculture, or Ducati motorcycles. In recent years such productive publics have become an important source of value creation, both inside and outside corporate organizations. And they are likely to become even more important in the future. We argue that productive publics present a modality of wealth creation that is particularly apt for an economy of commons. They have also developed a particular way of setting the values of that...

  8. 4 Value
    (pp. 81-108)

    Since the first decade of the twenty-first century, and in particular following the onset of a more interactive, Web 2.0 online culture, the possibility of an emerging “third” mode of value creation—beyond markets and hierarchies—has claimed attention in both managerial thought and theories of participatory culture more generally. These theories have independently arrived at largely converging models of how people come together in self-organized associations of strangers, what we have called “publics,” to create wealth using primarily common resources. In recent years much scholarship has documented this trend in contexts as diverse as the kind of large-scale collaborative...

  9. 5 Measure
    (pp. 109-132)

    In chapters 3 and 4, we suggested that developments in the real relations of production point toward the possibility of a new conception of value. To revisit this position very briefly: we have argued that the collaborative commons-based production that stands behind the creation of intangible assets tends to happen in a particular institutional form: publics. And we have proposed that such publics also function as highly particular reputation economies. In productive publics, reputation is conferred on actors by their peers, according to a comprehensive judgment of the excellence in the use of common resources and the virtue of their...

  10. 6 Ethical Economy
    (pp. 133-154)

    The financial expansion that has marked the last three decades signals the end of the industrial/consumerist model of capitalism that we have gotten used to in the postwar years. This has been a long-standing argument on the part of “unorthodox” economists like Robert Brenner and Andre Gunder Frank. Already in the 1990s they suggested that underneath the financial expansion that fueled the dot-com boom, and subsequently the housing boom, there was a persistent decline in the rates of profit of virtually all non-financial sectors of the U.S. economy (and tendencies are the same for Western Europe). To put it very...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 155-176)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 177-186)