FE books in 6 languages and 2 editions

Foundational economy is a body of thinking and doing which develops by building on earlier work. This book on the foundational as the infrastructure of everyday life t nis bookon the , originally published in 2018, synthesises the collective’s work up to that date. English readers are advised to obtain the new 2022 edition from edition from Manchester University Press which reprints the original text and adds a substantial preface which summarises our recent work and provides a referenced and up to date guide to current thinking.  The book remains an important 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 book is relevant to all of Europe and beyond and is available as an accessibly priced paper back in five languages. MUP, publishes in English with German and Italian editions available from Suhrkamp and Einaudi. The Portuguese edition was published Actual Editora and the Turkish edition by Imge .  Belgian and Dutch readers are served not by a translation but by the all new and locally authored book by David Bassens and Sarah de Boeck. Their book, The Essential Economy: an  Engine for Social-Ecological Transition was published for the first time in 2022 and again is valuable because it is up to date and represents current thinking.

Before you buy any of these books, the book, do read the  introductory chapter from the FE 2018 book. This is freely downloadable from this web site and it provides an overview of the argument of the book here.

The FE 2018 book explains how the material utilities and providential services 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 arguments about citizenship in chapter four of the book were then an important new development in foundational thinking which leads towards the edited 2020 book on The Foundational Economy and Citizenship.

The FE 2018 book also presents the first history of the foundational economy  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 a malign and neglectful state. The critique of privatisation, outsourcing and market choice has since been developed, especially by the active Italian group of researchers in their 2022 book Prima i fondamentali.

Building on this basis, as the FE 2022  book’s preface explains, the collective now distinguishes FE 1.0 and the system building of 1880 -1950 from FE 2.0 when economic and social needs have to be met within planetary limits. By the 2020s in our time of nature and climate emergency   the foundational solutions of the last generation have become a problem in our time of nature and climate emergency when foundational reliance systems account for half or more of our CO2 emissions Hence the Belgian emphasis on social ecological transition in The Essential Economy.

The final chapter of the book takes up the political challenge of thinking about how we can have a better future. In 2018, the Collective did not recommend specific policies but proposed 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.

Since then we have reflected on the electoral impasse of red and green reformist social democratic politics and the incapacity of the post administrative state. This opens the way for the argument in the preface to the FE 2022 edition about how adaptive reuse is the operating principle of foundational reform.  This will be taken up in an all new book on Household Liveability in 2023.