Research into the care economy
Updated: Apr 24
There are many leading economists and thought leaders describing other economic systems than the mainstream economic system which currently dominates. Kate Raworth’s Donut economy model is a leading example. Between 2018 and 2022 Mustardseed Trust focussed on iterating our own principles, ideas and visions from our partners for a healthy, balanced and caring planet in a principle we called: the care economy. The care economy is a vision of visions, not a single method to follow.
Mustardseed’s care economy is a reimagination of a social, political and economic organisation that puts at its centre nurturing, sustaining, and regenerating relationships between people and with the planet within which all activity is embedded. It moves away from an unsustainable extractive, exploitative, growth- oriented, domination-based system of interaction to one based on wellbeing, conviviality, cooperation, respect for boundaries and care for, and between, all living beings. It is a network of decentralised, pluralistic and participatory economies as well as the institutions and policies that support it.
We asked the researchers Andrea Stuit, Vibhor Mathur and Georgie Barber to find similar concepts to the care economy, so that we may be able to bring other like-minded thought leaders together. Who else is using the term care economy or what other similar terms are being used across the world that means the same thing? Notably, we expressly included non-western understandings of similar concepts.
Some of the key findings of the research were these leverage areas. These are catalyzing points of interest for Mustardseed that enable an economy that works for all:
1. Sustainable Resource Management. Scholars and activists push for commonization and decommodification. Looking at the natural world which embeds humanity beyond the frame of market commodities.
2. Democratizing access to currency. Community currencies and a universal basic income can play a role whereby they guarantee a minimum substance to all. Doing so can empower people to meet their needs and aspirations more democratically and sustainably.
3. Community-led decision-making and democratic participation as a way we are organised as a community, in business and in governance.
4. Framing our institutions to prioritize caring for all constituents in a balanced way.
5. Tools and Measures that enable to have insight into the progress towards planetary well-being.
Recommendations for catalysts, incubators and facilitators concerned with enabling such economy are:
1. (support efforts to) Retell the meta narrative or myths that guide societies. Replace the story of the selfish individualistic and self-sufficient human isolated from the ecology they inhabit, by one of humans as caring interdependent beings embedded in and reliant on, their environment and networks.
2. Enable and amplify and amplify communities and organisations that prefigure a transition to a Care Economy.
3. Foster collaborations between different sectors within the Care Economy.
4. Support educational programs to empower children with skills to create and sustain a Care Economy, such as empathy, non-violent communication, and living in harmony with nature.
5. Promote research into alternative systems of measurement and accounting progress.
6. Promote activism and efforts towards grassroots and participatory democracy movements.