Since reading this book, I’ve realized how deep is the anchor in me that growth is infinite, even though with my head, I understand well that there must be a limit.
What is this mechanism, which caused this? Is it general or true only for certain people (studies, age, geography)? What do I need to change and what is holding me back in this change to get out of this endless race?
Recently, I finished the book Dougnnut Economy: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist by Kate Raworth.
The development model proposed by Kate is more and more used, especially by cities (Amsterdam, Brussels), to rethink the development and growth of organizations.
I liked Kate’s holistic look at the modeling of the economic system, which has evolved from 5 actors in 1948 (business, households, banks, government and commerce) to a proposal of 11 actors to meet the new challenges (Earth, society, economy, households, market, commons, state, finance, business, commerce and power). The author describes the characters of the actors of the economy as Shakespeare did for his plays.
I found it interesting and am still thinking about how to use the Donuts theory in business. It is about a circumscribed growth space that satisfies both the social foundation of society, to ensure human dignity (food, education, housing, etc.), and does not exceed the ceiling of ecological constraints, to avoid excess pressure on the life-support system (climate change, ocean acidification, chemical pollution, etc.).
But above all, I was fascinated to learn that the study of economics contributes to dehumanize the student. A student who may later become one of our leaders, one of our influential decision makers.
Of course, there is no absolute causal link between studies and the type of character of students and I do not want to stigmatize the individuals, but rather the system that leads to this. We learn, for example, that research by R. Franck and others (1993, 2000) shows that third-year economics students rate altruistic values as much less important in life than their first-year counterparts. Or that economics students are more likely than students in other subjects to provide biased responses if they receive a financial reward. The study of economics thus seems to attract and develop self-interested individuals.
Kate explains this in the following way: in the history of economics, very quickly the social purpose of economics disappeared from its definition. The man described in it has lost his soul, his humanity. He is either a calculating, logical superhero who always makes THE right decision, or an object whose consumption behavior can be predicted. This vision has influenced our (unconscious) beliefs as young adults and has subsequently made us this way.
However, one of the first definitions of political economy is that of J. Steuart in 1767. It mentioned a definite social and human dignity goal: “The object of this science is to secure a certain fund of subsistence for all the inhabitants… to employ all the members (of society) in such a way as to give rise to reciprocal relations and dependencies between them, and to make them find advantages in providing for each other. Barely 80 years later, economics lost this type of objective forever! In order to get closer to the hard sciences, its definition is limited to a description of social phenomena. In 1844, J.S. Mill declared that economics is: “The science that describes the laws of social phenomena that occur…”.
From now on, we will never again name a goal other than that of describing social phenomena. Today, G. Mankiw’s (2012) definition is widely taught, “The study of how society manages its scarce resources.” Although there is no goal, no concrete purpose for Man, appears a subject that has become important today: scarce resources. But this definition still does not tell us for what purpose they should be managed 🙂 .
Economics has thus become a human science where Man is a manager without a purpose, or rather with the purpose of being an excellent manager, i.e. a purely rational person.
The other side of this dehumanization is to restrict human relationships to predictable goals with no emotion and no soul: the consumer… Add to this a vision rooted in our subconscious of infinite growth… and it makes for… the world today! 🙂
Kate proposes 7 transformations to move from a degenerative to a regenerative economy.
- Change the purpose of the economy: move from a vision of infinite growth to the Donuts economy.
- Seeing the big picture: considering the role of all actors in the economic ecosystem.
- Cultivate human nature: restore social relationships and an adaptable human.
- Knowing systems better: embracing complexity rather than trying to reduce it.
- Redesign to redistribute: stop believing that growth alone will solve the problems of social inequality.
- Create to regenerate: stop believing that growth alone will solve the problems of limited resources and the degradation of our life support system.
- To be agnostic about growth: to get out of a debate of beliefs, almost religious, and to look reality in the face (for a long time).