Manifesto for a Human Economy

Monday, 19 August, 2013 - 15:00

Presented by : 
Keith Hart

Over a century ago Alfred Marshall, in his synthesis of the marginalist revolution, Principles of Economics (1890), defined economics as “both a study of wealth and a branch of the study of man”. Marshall, Keynes' teacher at Cambridge, was a cooperative socialist who also developed a Hegelian theory of the welfare state and was later celebrated by Talcott Parsons (1937), with Durkheim, Weber and Pareto, as an author of the new theory of social action which replaced the utilitarian evolutionism of Herbert Spencer. My focus draws inspiration from and seeks to contribute to the tradition of economic thought, but, more explicitly than the currents within economics described above, we are open to other traditions in the humanities and social sciences, notably anthropology, history and development studies. The Human Economy research programme at the University of Pretoria has been shaped more directly by another movement of the last decade which now goes by the name of “alterglobalization” (Pleyers 2010). It is the third phase of an international project that originated in the first World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre soon after the millennium. The first phase (2002-2009) was a series of volumes in several languages, produced by a network of researchers and activists in Latin America and France, which aimed to introduce a wide audience to the core themes that might organize alternative approaches to the economy. These books, called Dictionary of the Other Economy, brought together short essays on the history of debate concerning particular topics and offered some practical applications of concepts relevant to building economic democracy. Taken together they pointed to a new language for addressing common problems of development.


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