Our new book

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.

This book was first published in English as Foundational Economy by Manchester University Press in September 2018, Einaudi will publish in Italian as Economia Fondomentale in April 2019 and Suhrkamp in German as Die Okonomie des Alltaglebens in June 2019.  A Dutch edition is under contract and will appear early in 2020.

The structure and argument of the book is substantially the same in all editions. But the content has been modified in detail to suit local audiences and different editions come with different forewords and after words. The afterword by Andy Haldane of the Bank of England only appears in the English edition; Wolfgang Streeck introduces the book for a German audience. Ewald Engelen will present the book for Dutch readers.

The same book is read differently in various countries according to local issues. In German it is “everyday” (not foundational) economy in the title with a subtitle that connects the book with current German concerns about neglected infrastructure.   In the Italian edition, the cover quote makes a strong connection with the failure of outsourced and privatised provision.

We can summarise the book’s argument below in three short paragraphs.

  •  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 here 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.

Before you buy the book, do read our introductory chapter on this web site which explains the argument of the book.