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Old 10-10-2008, 02:10 PM   #1
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Default Small Is Beautiful

Small Is Beautiful
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Small Is Beautiful Author E. F. Schumacher
Genre(s) Non-fiction
Publisher Hartley & Marks Publishers
Publication date December 1999
Media type Hardcover & Paperback
Pages 286 pages
ISBN ISBN 0-88179-169-5

Small Is Beautiful is the title of a series of books by E. F. Schumacher[1]. The original 1973 publication is a collection of essays that brought Schumacher's ideas to a wider audience, at a critical time in history. It was released soon after the effects of the 1973 energy crisis shook the world and dealt with the crisis and various emerging trends (like globalization) in an unusual fashion.

Schumacher was a respected economist who worked with J.M. Keynes and J.K. Galbraith. For 20 years he was the Chief Economic Advisor to the National Coal Board in the United Kingdom, opposed the neo-classical economics by declaring that single-minded concentration on output and technology was dehumanizing, that one's workplace should be dignified and meaningful first, efficient second, and that nature is priceless. Schumacher proposed the idea of "smallness within bigness"; in other words, a specific form of decentralization: for a large organization to work it must behave like a related group of small organizations. Schumacher's work coincided with the growth of ecological concerns and with the birth of environmentalism and he became a hero to many in the environmental movement.

In the first chapter of 'Small Is Beautiful', "The Problem of Production", Schumacher points out that our economy is unsustainable. The natural resources (especially fossil fuels), are treated as expendable income, when in fact they should be treated as capital, since they are not renewable and thus subject to eventual depletion. He further points out that similarly, the capacity of nature to resist pollution is limited as well. He concludes that government effort must be concentrated on reaching sustainable development, because relatively minor improvements like education for leisure or technology transfer to the Third World countries will not solve the underlying problem of unsustainable economy. Schumacher's philosophy is a philosophy of enoughness, appreciating both human needs and limitations, and appropriate use of technology. It grew out of his study of village based economics, which he later termed “Buddhist Economics.” He faults conventional economic thinking for failing to consider the most appropriate scale for an activity, blasts notions that “growth is good”, and that “bigger is better,” and questions the appropriateness of using mass production in developing countries, promoting instead “production by the masses.” Schumacher was one of the first economists to question the appropriateness of using GNP to measure human well being, emphasizing that “the aim ought to be to obtain the maximum amount of well being with the minimum amount of consumption.”

The E. F. Schumacher Society, named after the author of Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered, is an educational non-profit organization founded in 1980. Our programs demonstrate that both social and environmental sustainability can be achieved by applying the values of human-scale communities and respect for the natural environment to economic issues.

Building on a rich tradition often known as decentralism, the Society initiates practical measures that lead to community revitalization and further the transition toward an economically and ecologically sustainable society.
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