The ‘Economy of Communion’: Inspirations and Achievements

Luigino Bruni, Stefano Zamagni

The ‘Economy of Communion’: Inspirations and Achievements
published on Finance & Common Good - n.20 - Autumn 2004

Economics, nowadays, is facing a remarkable challenge: the processes of globalisation can offer new opportunities to many who are still excluded from material well-being but, at the same time, there is the real risk of transforming the world into a large supermarket in which the only form of human relationship is the economic one, where everything becomes a commodity.
Our market economy has two possible ways forward: to build a ‘global village’ where, as in every village, principles are at work (redistribution, gift and exchange), or, instead, to transform the world into a ‘global supermarket’ where there is no room for genuine and non-instrumental relationships.

In this context, the main challenge of the Economy of Communion - both at a theoretical and a practical level - is to show that it is possible to find a place for love within the economic domain. In fact, the key to understanding the Economy of Communion project is precisely the category of love, understood as a feeling of brotherhood and good will toward other people, as a deep concern for the other as a person, and not as a sentimental or psychological feeling.
In this sense, love is more than pure empathy or fellow-feeling, terms that have been more often used by economists than love - including Adam Smith - to capture the sense of one person’s opening up to others.

We will begin with a brief mention of the relationship between economics and love, in order to move on to the description of the Economy of Communion project.
In conclusion, we will describe some of the implications that result from taking the concept of love seriously in economic matters and, consequently, we hope to show the radical criticism that the Economy of Communion experience represents in relation to the usual way of understanding economics.

The ‘Economy of Communion’: Inspirations and Achievements

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