1. Reframing the Economy

Reframing the Economy, Reframing Ourselves

As discussed in Chapter 1 of Take Back the Economy, taking back the economy involves reframing the economy so that we can recognize the economic diversity that abounds in this world. This means broadening our focus from what we usually identify as ‘the economy’ to include an array of hidden economic activities. When we do this, we multiply opportunities for taking back the economy.

There are two tools for this chapter.

The first tool is based on reframing the economy as an iceberg.

     Reframing the Economy, Chapter 1 Tool

     You might find the Chapter 1 Template useful when using this tool.

The iceberg tool has been translated into different languages and into different images (including a floating coconut in the context of Fiji and the Solomon Islands). You can see these different images here.

The second tool is based on the diverse economy table (which is a way of more formally organising the 'random' activities and practices in the iceberg).

     The Diverse Economy, Chapter 1 Tool

     You might find the Chapter 1 The Diverse Economy Template useful when using this tool.


Extra Resources

If you are teaching Take Back the Economy, you will find materials and activities based on this chapter in the Lecture 1 and Lecture 2 sections of Teaching TBTE in Hong Kong.

Jenny Cameron has written about reframing the food economy (and politics) in a keynote presentation on Reframing the (Food) Economy.

Katherine Gibson is the Executive Producer of The Bamboo Bridge, a 65-minute documentary (from 2019) which tells the story of a 1.5km bamboo bridge that was built each year across the Mekong River in Cambodia, linking a small island community to a nearby town. Once the monsoon started the bridge was dismantled and then recycled the following year. In 2017, this bridge was built for the last time when a massive new government funded concrete bridge was inaugurated as the country embraces China’s One Belt One Road initiative. Through a slow and gentle rhythm, the film engages with three generations of bridge builders who share stories of this unique sustainable infrastructure and the diverse community economies and ecologies it sustained. Focusing on the last master builder, Mr Oun, the film explores the subtle intricacies of traditional forms of sustainable living with the rhythms of local ecosystems and the cycles of bamboo. This film helps us reflect on the different economic activities and priorities that are intertwined in people’s everyday lives. See https://www.visionsdureel.ch/en/2020/media-film/the-bamboo-bridge.

In her teaching Anke Schwittay, from the University of Sussex, introduces students to a reframing of the economy. She starts by getting students to keep economic diaries which are then 'translated' into economic inventories. She also gets them to consider the ethical dimensions of their economic activities by exploring questions such as 'On what basis am I making economic decisions?' 'What kind of social relationships am I entering or creating through my economic activities?' You can read more at https://creativeuniversities.com/2020/05/28/diverse-economy-portfolios/.