Civil Economy and Economy of Communion. What are the differences?

Civil Economy and Economy of Communion

by Luigino Bruni

Published in Città Nuova n.1/2010

Civil economy is a tradition of thought that views the market and business not as the reign of individual interests alone but as a matter of reciprocity and fraternity. If we consider the economy in this way, then we can say that the Economy of Communion (EoC) is truly economy and not just a marginal experience of good entrepreneurs going ahead to plug the holes in the economy that actually counts. It´s something new that cannot be framed within the dualistic scheme of "for-profit" and "non-profit", typical of the capitalistic tradition.

When we look at the EoC from the cultural perspective of civil economy, it becomes a paradigm of those "for-project" businesses (who are neither "for" or "against" profit)  typical of civil economy, in which entrepreneurs are builders of shared projects and in which profit is only an element.

At the same time, the EoC and the spirituality from which it arose have provided us theoretical categories for giving content to civil economy. These include reciprocity, gratuitousness, fraternity and relational goods - words we have "learned" even by observing the life of the entrepreneurs, workers and the poor of the EoC project. Therefore, without the experience and the spirituality of the EoC, the theoretical content of civil economy would probably be (at least on my part) much more meager and certainly different. Without the elaboration of civil economy, the EoC would have less scientific dignity and would be considered an anomalous exception, without the extensiveness that civil economy´s perspective gives it.

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