Our most recent report in August 2018 From developer regeneration to civic futures Report sets Manchester’s current choices in a historical context and argues that the city is at the end of a trajectory of developer led regeneration. And needs a new politics for foundational service provision which would once again tackle issues of collective consumption but do so in a more participative way which involves citizens. This report on the city region of Manchester is part of a broader ongoing concern with regional policy.
This new book from the foundational economy collective will be the go to source for engaged citizens, active practitioners and critical academics beyond who want to know more about the foundational economy concept and its relevance to the politics of progressive reform.
The foundational encompasses material utilities like water, gas and electricity and providential services like education, health and care. The book explains how the material and providential matter economically and politically because they are the collectively consumed infrastructure of everyday life, the basis of well being and should be citizen rights. The emphasis on citizenship is an important new development in foundational thinking.
From this point of view, the foundational economy has a history which began heroically and ends in degradation. In the century after 1880 national and local state action built up the supply of foundational services right across Europe and North America. Since 1980 their systems of provision have been undermined by state neglect. This is variably combined with privatisation, outsourcing and market choice which import the unsuitable business models of financialized public companies and private equity.
The book takes up the political challenge of thinking about how we can have a better future. It does not recommend specific policies but proposes broad principles for re-building the foundational which could mobilise old and new social actors in broad political alliances; ask the citizens what they want; reinvent taxation; lean on intermediary institutions; and do not assume the state is benign and competent.
The book is relevant to all of Europe and beyond and will be available as an accessibly priced paper back in three languages. MUP, publisher of our Manchester Capitalism series, leads in English in September 2018 with German and Italian editions to follow from Suhrkamp and Einaudi in 2019. Before you buy the book, do read our introductory chapter on this web site which explains the argument of the book here.
Mick Moran died suddenly after a heart attack on 3rd April. This was completely unexpected and it is still difficult to accept the death of a collaborator who had such energy and was already up for the next project. He had played a key role in the development of the political dimensions of foundational thinking in our collective, most recently by introducing citizenship arguments And he had shared drafting duties on much of our recent output so that Foundational Economy will be his last and our next book, when published in the autumn. Those who met Mick as a modest, wise old man often did not realise there was a remarkable back story which is summarised in our obituary. He was the child of migrants who had been born into rural Irish poverty; then had a distinguished career as a political scientist from which he retired to join us in our foundational project. Our intellectual loss is great because this was a life interrupted when Mick was still at the peak of his creative and innovative powers. But we also remember that this was a life well lived and know that the values of imagination of the Foundational Economy book are a fitting memorial.
Read our obituary here.
This yeart’s colloquium will take place on the 5th and 6th of September 2018. The first day will be academic led at Cardiff university. As well as the usual papers and presentations, we will include a discussion of how to develop the European network of academic researchers. The second day will be practioner led at Ebbw Vale and will include reports back from the Welsh experiments at Swansea and Ebbw Vale.
Anyone wishing to attend should, in the first instance contact Joe Earle, the organiser at email@example.com .
Swansea Bay report 2017
In June 2017 foundationaleconomy.com and CREW (Centre for Regeneration Excellence in Wales) launched What Wales Can Do a new report on policy for the Swansea Bay city region. This new report follows up the earlier 2015 report What Wales Can Be and adds new evidence, arguments and framing. The argument in this new report is for an asset based approach to developing the foundational economy in the region. The starting point is two observations about the limits of the main stream policies and policy making. The Swansea Bay City Deal which was signed off in Spring 2017 focuses on next generation industries which will never be volume employers; and more fundamentally, government (local, Welsh and national) does not know what to do in key policy areas like small business support and adult care. So what we need is a coalition of state and non- state actors to undertake scaleable experiments. These would aim to break down the barriers between economic and social policy and increase tangible welfare (not market incomes measured by GVA per capita). The report can be downloaded here. This is now being followed up with local funded experiments in Swansea Bay Blaenau Gwent.
With Article 50 triggered, British voters had to brace themselves for Brexit after a referendum campaign which had not framed the key issues or articulated the choices for our increasingly disunited kingdom. So here is an antidote, a working paper from foundationaleconomy.com researchers which explains how we could and should make Brexit work by reorganising the foundational economy which provides essential goods and services to every household. When Theresa May called an oppurtunist general election in 2017, she promised “an economy that works for everyone“ and Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the oppasition campaigned for a “ fairer society” This working paper sketches a route map for how to deliver on these objectives. The working paper is available here.
In 2016 we decided as a group to hold an annual public event which would be open to academics and practitioners, keeping the numbers limited in the interests of sustained discussion. The colloquia take radical social innovation as their theme because that represents our concept of policy and practice.
The First Radical Social Innovation Colloquium in Cardiff was co-sponsored by WISERD and CRESC in May 2016. You can read Mick Moran’s blog about the colloquium here and access the conference programme here. The opening plenary presentation by Julie Froud can be read here.
The second colloquium took place at Queen Mary University of London in May 2017. You can see the draft programme here.
On the 8th of March 2017 the Welsh Assembly held a 60 minute debate on the foundational economy. Four Labour members proposed a motion which “Calls on the Welsh Government to develop a strategy to maximise the impact of the foundational economy across Wales as part of its work on developing a new economic strategy.” This attracted cross party support from Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives, and the Economy Minister, Ken Skates, then responded positively. Watch the debate here.
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In March 2017 we published the most recent in a series of public interest reports which have attracted considerable public attention. The new report Coming Back Capability and Precarity in UK Textiles and Apparel develops a distinctive analysis of firm capability and emphasises the importance of supportive ecological conditions. The practical implication is that a large scale reshoring of garment production is not going to happen, but, that there is much to be done in supporting small and medium firms and policing competition from firms who are not paying minimum wages.