Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Individual Subsistence: On a Principle of Economy and Society

Thieme, Sebastian (2010): Individual Subsistence: On a Principle of Economy and Society.

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Abstract

With this paper the author tries to clarify the terms of “public“ and “private“ with reference to the ideas of Thomas Hobbes and Johann Heinrich von Thünen. Both scientists showed that the individual's subsistence is very fundamental for a society and – therefore – the base of “public“. Additionally with reference to Polanyi's “Great Transformation“, it will be shown that the mainstream economic idea of “modern“ market economies acts strictly against the individual's subsistence. In contrast to his explanations, the protection of individual subsistence is an important part of solidarity. From that the question of shifting boundaries between “private“ and “public“ is reformulated against the background of the individual's subsistence! This paper gives reasons to think about the individual's subsistence as a neglected economic principle. Hereby it will also provide another and self-critical view from alternative economic perspective to the real question behind the shifting boundaries: Is a change in economic thinking to be expected? The insights into these problems will be especially useful in the prepartory work to discuss political activities in the light of the current economic crisis worldwide.

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