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Participatory Economics

public - created 06/09/04
Participatory economics, often abbreviated parecon, is a proposed economic system that uses participatory decision making as an economic mechanism to guide the allocation of resources and consumption in a given society. Proposed as an alternative to contemporary capitalist market economies and also an alternative to centrally planned socialism or coordinatorism, it emerged from the work of activist and political theorist Michael Albert and that of radical economist Robin Hahnel, beginning in the 1980s and 1990s.

The underlying values that parecon seeks to implement are equity, solidarity, diversity, and the equivalent of self-management on a participatory scale. It proposes to attain these ends mainly through the following principles and institutions:

* workers' and consumers' councils utilizing self-managerial methods for decision making,
* balanced job complexes,
* remuneration according to effort and sacrifice, and
* participatory planning.

Albert and Hahnel stress that parecon is only meant to address an alternative economic theory and that it must be accompanied by equally important alternative visions in the fields of politics, culture and kinship. Stephen R. Shalom has begun work on a participatory political vision he calls "parpolity". Elements of anarchism in the field of politics, polyculturalism in the field of culture, and feminism in the field of family and gender relations are also discussed by the authors as being possible foundations for future alternative visions in these other spheres of society.
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