Seeing the World Anew: A Framework for a Renewed Economy

Global Women's Project | Mon, May 17, 2010

By Maria Riley, O.P.
Source: Center of Concern

Contemporary crises in finance, the economy, care, hunger, migration, energy and climate change are the interrelated signs revealing the failure of the dominant Neoliberal approach to development over the last 3 decades.  This paper analyzes the roots of these crises and lays out a vision of a way forward that promises healing, renewal and greater justice for all peoples and Earth.  It provides the framework for the Center's programming into the future. 

From the publication:

People around the globe have been shaken by the fallout of the multiple crises— financial, economic, food, climate and care--that have engulfed our world over the past two years. This current context is opening the way for new directions, and an integrated approach to economic, environmental and social analysis and potential new policies to address the perennial problems of development, ecological degradation and social and gender inequality. These problems are integrally connected and their analyses and policy recommendations must also be.

Most current analyses and corresponding policy initiatives tend to focus on one dimension of the crises, the financial. For many there is an implicit assumption that with the stabilization of financial markets and the adoption of new regulatory regimes domestic and global economies can return to business as usual. While this approach may ameliorate somewhat the immediate fallout of some of the crises, its solutions fall far short of creating conditions necessary for economic recovery, the return to high employment, environmental sustainability and social well-being. To achieve these goals, a more serious reshaping of economic thinking and policy, both domestically and globally is required. Our current economic activities are unsustainable and undermine human and ecological well-being.

For the purposes of this paper, insights from Catholic Social Thought, feminist economists and ecological economists will open the way to rethinking current economics. This approach does not fit easily within the framework of economic activity limited to “production, distribution and consumption” nor within the idea that economics is entirely about “market forces and/or rational choice” (Nelson and Goodwin, 2005, 1). Two central concepts of feminist and ecological economic thinking, care work and natural resource use, are defined as “externalities” in current economic thought which means they are not calculated into the economic equation of production. Catholic Social Thought identifies the dignity of the human person, preferential option for those in poverty, the global common good and the common purpose of all creation as central elements to a just world order...

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