Global financial capitalism has eroded the moral economy on which all economic exchanges ultimately depend. The principles of reciprocity, responsibility and redistribution, which for centuries defined the market place, have been increasingly pushed aside by a growth model that places the pursuit of profit above all else.
Drawing on the Italian tradition of civic humanism, political economists Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni, advocate the need for a more well-mannered type of economic market – a civil economy – which places well-being, virtue and the common good alongside more familiar economic goals like market share, increased productivity and competitiveness.
This book provides an introduction to the civil economy approach. It explores its origins and development, examines the thought and ideas of some of its pioneers and main representatives, and explains the many different fields of application of the civil economy, from the determination of gross domestic product to the management of common goods, from welfare to the organization of production and consumption. Civil economy seeks to find solutions to social problems within the market – while maximizing human values and minimizing government intervention – rather than seek to replace the market. It is a distinct and valuable approach and one that offers individuals, corporations and governments a framework for a humane and socially accountable, yet productive and competitive system of markets.
Luigino Bruni is professor of political economy at LUMSA Universita, Rome.
Stefano Zamagni is professor of economics at the University of Bologna, and senior adjunct professor of international economics and vice director of Italian affairs at the School of Advanced International Studies, John Hopkins University, Bologna.