What is the foundational economy?

If you want a short, accessible introduction to the foundational economy, there are several starting points. Karel Williams gave a presentation to the Committee for Sydney in November 2016. Jack Miller of the National Assembly for Wales Research Service has also produced a blog post which summarises some basics and explains their relevance to Wales.

Behind these summaries is a substantial body of ideas which has developed considerably in the past few years. We hope to consolidate what we have learned in a new team authored Manchester Capitalism book which will appear in 2018. Meanwhile, the foundationaleconomy.com group asked Ewald Engelen and Adam Leaver to summarise our current position for a Europe wide audience and this they have done in the article here.

Our emphasis is always on engaging specifics and this kind of overview needs to be complemented by national and regional analysis. So readers may also find it useful to turn to Julie Froud, Sukhdev Johal and Karel Williams’ short piece on the UK after Brexit which appeared in the Socio Economic Review available here.

Our arguments of 2016-17 about the limits of the one economy concept and on the foundational as the basis of citizenship build on earlier, simpler statements of position.

The concept was originally presented in the 2013 CRESC Manifesto for the foundational economy. This came out of dissatisfaction with generic industrial policy focused on next generation industries and attracting mobile inward investment; against this we argued that there was a large, neglected and sheltered economy with around 40% of the workforce engaged in providing households with basic goods and services.

Several team authored books – The End of The Experiment (2014), What a Waste (2015) and Il Capitale Quotidiano (2016) – and public interest reports then developed our argument about the foundational as the damaged infrastructure of everyday life. They showed how foundational provision was compromised when privatisation and outsourcing introduced financialised providers with targets of double digit returns on capital and expectations of growth.