Human Economy Project

What is Human Economy?


Human economy is an interdisciplinary scientific field dedicated to the observation and analysis of men and women’s economic needs and experiences. Keith Hart and E. F. Schumacher, among other, came up with this concept.

Human Economy aims at complementing and enriching the traditional field of economics by offering and promoting new ideas and innovative solutions. Human economy tackles observations and analysis to the most pressing issues identified, such as indebtedness, gender equality, poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and growing inequality; and ultimately proposes innovative ideas and solutions for a fairer economy and society.

 The idea behind human economy is to restore a dialogue between disciplines in order to come together to the best and most adapted solutions and analysis. Humanities and social sciences research can offer alternative perspectives leading to solutions.

 In the past, for example, well before the advent of modern banks, financial exchanges were based on trust, cooperation, solidarity and fairness. Not everything was perfect, but people could talk to each other and renegotiate the terms of their agreements. Flexibility was the key idea. Today, in the western world, technological development in the banking sector featuring advanced algorithms prevent communication between bank clerks and their clients. Loans are made solely by computers. Defaults of payment are severely reprimanded with exorbitant fees, making the situation unbearable for many people in distress. Economists often propose technical solutions with an non-adapted toolbox, featuring neat models and mathematical equations to smooth the effects of indebtedness, often forgetting that men and women lay behind the numbers.  Historians, among others, can bring insights on this issue and propose alternative solutions tailored to better suit the needs of individuals in distress based on their work and empirical analysis. Debt is not just an economic concept, it is above all a social issue.

The Human Economy Research Network

The HERN is a forum and an incubator of ideas where scholars from diverse disciplines think together about how to improve men and women’s lives. Historians, philosophers, anthropologists, political scientists, sociologists, economists and other social sciences and humanities scholars interested in human economy will find a place to exchange ideas, debate and propose alternative and innovative solutions to important societal questions related to the economy. Together, they will identify, interpret and explain current issues. Among the research clusters featured predominantly through the HERN, one will be able to find debt/indebtedness, inequality, poverty alleviation, sustainable development and gender equality.

One of the major outcomes is to propose valuable data and insightful reports to policy makers and non-governmental organizations but also offer information to the public. The research produced will lead to better political decisions, well-informed citizens and will serve as a leveller to make a societal and economic impact.

FIRST PILOT PROJECT: 'Who Runs the World?!' Women and Informal Markets in South Africa 

See also the international symposium Informal Financial Markets: Now and Then