Small is Beautiful
A Study of Economics as if People Mattered
Publisher: Abacus, London, United Kingdom
Year Published: 1973
Resource Type: Book
Cx Number: CX6562
Schumacher argues that mainstream economics is incompatible with the long-term ends of humanity.
Abstract: Small is Beautiful is a collection of 19 essays that suggests that mainstream economics is incompatible with the long-term ends of humanity. Schumacher suggests it is because of the modern fixation on gigantism that ignores the small. Thus, the essays paint an alternative economic perspective that emphasizes the small because "Man is small, and, therefore, small is beautiful."
Together with the theme of appropriate scale, Schumacher's essays also stress the importance of human wisdom in guiding scientific and economic goals. For example, he suggests that while blind scientific progress has created highly productive forms of modern technology, the use of such capital-intensive and labour-saving technology is inappropriate for the high levels of unemployment in the developing world. Similarly, the blind pursuit of economic growth has led to the destruction of environment and the cultivation of greed and envy in society. Consequently, Schumacher believes progress must be guided by the metaphysical, which is better understood at the smaller, local and personal level, and not in an abstract statistic such as GNP.
The collection is divided into 4 parts. First, "The Modern World," questions whether modern economic theory can solve all of man's problems. Second, "Resources," critiques the environmental impact of modern economic production. Next, "The Third World" proposes how Schumacher's concept of intermediate technology could aid in development. Finally, "Organization and Ownership" weighs in on the appropriateness of public and private ownership in different scales of organization.
The 25th anniversary edition includes new commentaries on the original essays, as well as information on current organizations that now pursue similar goals as Schumacher.
[Abstract by Jared Ong]
Part I The Modern World
1 The Problem of Production
2 Peace and Permanence
3 The Role of Economics
4 Buddhist Economics
5 A Question of Size
Part II Resources
6 The Greatest Resource - Education
7 The Proper Use of Land
8 Resources for Industry
9 Nuclear Energy - Salvation or Damnation?
10 Technology with a Human Face
Part III The Third World
12 Social and Economic Problems Calling for the Development of Intermediate Technology
13 Two Million Villages
14 The Problem of Unemployment in India
Part IV Organisation and Ownership
15 A Machine to Foretell the Future?
16 Towards a Theory of Large-scale Organisation
19 New Patterns of Ownership
Notes and Acknowledgements