Envisioning an economy that works for all

There is enormous discontent with our current economic model — and rightly so
- Professor Sir Tim Besley
cohesive capitalism mauro-mora-unsplash 747x560
Mauro Mora via Unsplash

Thanks to a transformational gift from the Open Society Foundations, the London School of Economics and Political Science will launch a major new initiative focused on the political economy of ‘cohesive capitalism’.

The Programme on Cohesive Capitalism will explore new economic models that genuinely work for all citizens. Led by Professor Sir Tim Besley, School Professor of Economics and Political Science, and housed in the Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economic and Related Disciplines (STICERD) within the Department of Economics, the programme will bring together LSE’s world-class thinkers in political philosophy and the social sciences to address fundamental questions about what kind of economy will best support global communities and to discuss the policies that can help to support that ambition.

Recognising that ideas alone are not enough to bring about change, the programme will include ambitious strands of public engagement and curriculum development. It will help to maintain LSE’s position at the forefront of developing new ideas and policies that promote opportunity, tackle inequality, and create a more stable and cohesive society.

‘Cohesive capitalism’ refers to a form of capitalism that has three distinct but related aspects. First, that certain social preconditions are required for the existence of a stable and successful capitalist society – specifically, a sense of common purpose and social solidarity that fosters a widespread commitment to economic institutions and a strong state. Second, that those institutions are designed to enable participation in economic life that is open to all, with widely shared benefits of economic prosperity. Third, that it is built on democratic political institutions, where personal freedom and rights are guaranteed.

While ‘cohesive capitalism’ is the organising concept for this major new programme of research and engagement, it is not intended to pre-judge its outcomes. The overarching aim is to propose a vision for an economic system built on sound analytical and normative foundations, complemented by a realistic theory to bring about positive changes to societies.

Commenting on the new programme, Professor Sir Tim Besley said: “There is enormous discontent with our current economic model — and rightly so. This new multidisciplinary programme provides an exciting opportunity to create the kind of dialogue between philosophy and social science that is essential if we are to find a better way of doing things, and to develop a body of research that is useful to citizens and policymakers around the world."

Open Society Foundations

A long-standing supporter of LSE, the Open Society Foundations work to build vibrant and inclusive democracies whose governments are accountable to their people. The Foundations were founded in 1993 by LSE alumnus George Soros (BSc Economics 1951, MSc Philosophy 1954).

Leonard Benardo, Senior Vice President of the Open Society Foundations, said: “The Ideas and Fellowships Collaborative at the Open Society Foundations supports efforts that spur interrogation of key open society concepts and exploration of heterodox ideas and aims to inspire renewal in research and teaching across institutions of higher education and their role in searching for solutions to global open society challenges. In tackling some key research themes and questions, LSE’s new Programme on Cohesive Capitalism will bring together diverse research expertise within the School and beyond to envision fairer, more inclusive and prosperous economic systems. We are proud to be partnering with LSE on this promising initiative.”

Professor Susana Mourato, LSE Vice President and Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research, added: “The challenges faced by the world have compelled the global community to re-evaluate many aspects of contemporary society. LSE plays a leading role in finding solutions to seemingly intractable problems, taking an evidence-based approach to policy that has transformed the way important decisions are made.

"Transformative change can only be achieved through partnership. We are honoured to be partnering with the Open Society Foundations and the Ideas and Fellowships Collaborative to tackle one of the most pressing challenges of our time by reimagining new economic models that truly work for all.”

Behind the article

For more information about this new initiative at LSE, visit Cohesive Capitalism