Civilizing the Economy A New Economics of Provision

Ten Characteristics of “alternative economies.”

Posted Jun 26, 2012 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, 1 Comment

This Thursday, I finish a short course on alternative economies at the UC Extension, Osher LifeLong Learning Institute.  We have covered, to varying degrees, the following: a civic economy, an economy of provisions, a commons economy, peer to peer economy, a sharing economy, a gift economy, a local economy, a sustainable economy, and a democratic economy.   Lots of alternatives, and there are probably more.  In reviewing them, I have come up with the following ten characteristics:

Ten Characteristics of “alternative economies.”

  1. They are more concrete and local than our current global financial economy.
  2. They are more specific about wealth than the abstract measurement of GDP or even the accumulation of assets.
  3. They focus more on the provisions of everyday life, such as food, housing, clothing, health, and entertainment instead of stocks and bonds.
  4. They rely more on relationships of trust than the self-interest of disconnected individuals.
  5. They are more contextual than most traditional economic thought.
  6. They include people and the planet in their vision instead of focusing only on profit maximization.
  7. They recognize the limits of growth.
  8. They elicit the participation of all instead of only property owners.
  9. They see themselves as belonging to the earth rather than the earth belonging to them.
  10. They are part of the future, if we are to have one.



One Response to “Ten Characteristics of “alternative economies.””

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Marvin T. Brown, Ph.D teaches business and organizational ethics at the University of San Francisco and Saybrook University in San Francisco.

This book is the culmination of 30 years of teaching and writing on business and society from a communicative perspective. Visit for more information.

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