From The Roots Up: Economic Development As If Community Mattered

Year Published:  1987  
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX3212

Abstract:  FROM THE ROOTS UP challenges prevailing conservative economic nostrums based on the assumption of rapid technological progress and unending economic growth. They recall "the original meaning of the work economy -- the ordering of the household--arguing that we have moved too far beyond this original appreciation of the essential relationship that exists necessarily between familites and communities as economically production and mroe obvious preoccupations of economists with employment, wages, inflation, trade, competitiveness, land, capital, productivity, etc. The authors remind us that "above all, an economyu iis a set of relations among people."

They say that "the economy" is now increasingly not the "superstructure on an enduring foundation of family and community activity but a replacement for them. In this view, industry and commerce drive out all other forms of economic endeavor because we are told the former are more efficient, and will continue to be so in the future. What is not industrialized now soon will be with technological and organizational advancements. Our basic concepts of modernization, development and progess rest on industrialization, with the result that family and community-based production of goods and services is almost automatically dismissed as antiquated and outmoded."

The authors state their belief that this view is not only greatly exaggerated "but would also be an undesirable part of our social fabric and leaves funamental human needs unfulfilled.

They point out that most people idealize the sharing, comradeship, intimacy and mutual aid that are associated with family, community and firends, yet economic activity is based on the assumption that the production and consumption of commodities is the prime means by which we can satisfy human needs.

In their concluding chapter on policy implications, the authors suggest ways in which the balance of economic activity could be restructured to be based on the assumption that community matters.


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