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Take Back the Economy

An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities

J. K. Gibson-Graham

Publication Year: 2013

In the wake of economic crisis on a global scale, more and more people are reconsidering their role in the economy and wondering what they can do to make it work better for humanity and the planet. In this innovative book, J. K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron, and Stephen Healy contribute complex understandings of economics in practical terms: what can we do right now, in our own communities, to make a difference?

Full of exercises, thinking tools, and inspiring examples from around the world, Take Back the Economy shows how people can implement small-scale changes in their own lives to create ethical economies. There is no manifesto here, no one prescribed model; rather, readers are encouraged and taught how to take back the economy in ways appropriate for their own communities and context, using what they already have at hand.

Take Back the Economy dismantles the idea that the economy is separate from us and best comprehended by experts. Instead, the authors demonstrate that the economy is the outcome of the decisions and efforts we make every day. The economy is thus reframed as a space of ethical action—something we can shape and alter according to what is best for the well-being of people and the planet. The book explores what people are already doing to build ethical economies, presenting these deeds as mutual concerns: What is necessary for survival, and what do we do with the surplus produced beyond what will fulfill basic needs? What do we consume, and how do we preserve and replenish the commons—those resources that can be shared to maintain all? And finally, how can we invest in a future worth living in?

Suitable for activists and students alike, Take Back the Economy will be of interest to anyone seeking a more just, sustainable, and equitable world.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

Taking back the economy is not a task for a loner. The job calls for concerted action by many. Thankfully we know that there are already many on the job. This book could not have been written without them. ...

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Take Back the Economy: Why Now?

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pp. xiii-xxiv

This book rests on the following premise: our economy is the outcome of the decisions we make and the actions we take. We might be told that there’s an underlying logic, even a set of natural principles, that direct how economies operate, but most of us can see that the decisions and actions of governments and corporations have a lot to do with how economies shape up. ...

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Chapter 1. Reframing the Economy, Reframing Ourselves

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pp. 1-16

If we are to believe the evening TV news, our lives are dictated by the state of the economy. Our fortunes rest with how well governments manage the economy and how much scope businesses are given to grow the economy. Economists have become the soothsayers of the modern world, predicting what will happen as interest rates rise and fall, ...

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Chapter 2. Take Back Work: Surviving Well

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pp. 17-48

Work is what we do for a living—it’s what we do to survive. Work gives us an identity. It’s a way of defining who we are. When we meet people for the first time, we usually want to know what they do for a living. We’re interested in how much they are paid and what status is attached to their position. ...

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Chapter 3. Take Back Business: Distributing Surplus

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pp. 49-84

Businesses are organizations in which goods and services are produced and exchanged. They are where entrepreneurs and workers transform resources, technology, and labor into something new. The mainstream message is that business is the font of economic growth from which wealth and well-being flow. ...

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Chapter 4. Take Back the Market: Encountering Others

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pp. 85-124

In complex societies we rely on a vast number of other people for the goods and services we need to survive. We acquire many of these goods and services via “the market.” In today’s world, markets have assumed a peculiar power. They are heralded as the ideal system for coordinating complex transactions between producers and consumers. ...

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Chapter 5. Take Back Property: Commoning

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pp. 125-158

Property usually refers to all the things we own and use in order to survive well. If we’re lucky we own a home and a car, as well as an array of other material bits and pieces—the “stuff” that gives us comfort, status, identity, and pleasure. If we’re businesspeople, our property might include all the things our business needs to operate successfully— ...

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Chapter 6. Take Back Finance: Investing in Futures

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pp. 159-188

The finance sector with its flighty financial markets has become our oracle of economic health. Every night on the TV news, graphs and figures showing currency fluctuations or the Dow Jones index are deciphered by economic commentators who tell us what we can and cannot expect of the future. ...

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Any Time, Any Place . . .

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pp. 189-198

In this book we have taken back the economy by reframing it as a space of ethical action rather than a machine that must be obeyed. We have taken back work, business, markets, property, and finance and shown how, together, we can act to make a different future. ...


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pp. 199-214


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pp. 215-222

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About the Author

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p. 248-248

J. K . Gibson-Graham is the pen name of the economic geographers Professor Katherine Gibson from the University of Western Sydney and the late Julie Graham from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. J. K. Gibson-Graham’s earlier books include A Postcapitalist Politics (Minnesota, 2006), ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780816684441
E-ISBN-10: 0816684448
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816676071

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2013