Privatisation, market choice, outsourcing: these are the watchwords that have shaped policy in numerous democratic states in the last generation. These were claimed to provide more efficient services so we could keep our services while paying less. The authors of ‘The Foundational Economy’ claim that the end result is the degradation of the foundational economy. By the foundational economy, they mean the material infrastructure at the foundation of civilised life – things like water pipes and sewers – and the providential services like education, health care and care for the old which are at the base of any civilised life.
Karel Williams, Julie Froud and Joe Earle, all part of the Foundational Collective that authored this book, talk about how these services were built up in the century between 1880 and 1980 so that they were collectively paid for, collectively delivered and collectively consumed. They discuss how how this system of provision has been undermined in the age of privatisation and outsourcing. They set out the principles that should guide renewal of the foundational economy and the initiatives which could begin to put these principles into practice.