Ideas Into Motion

Progressive Economics and Social Change Movements
by Jim Stanford

Our research at the Centre for Future Work is motivated by a deep commitment to improving the jobs, working conditions, and living standards of working people in Australia and around the world. We combine our knowledge of economics, our quantitative and qualitative research, and our connections with trade unionists and social movements to develop arguments and evidence that supports campaigns for decent work, stronger communities, and sustainability.

Our Director, Dr. Jim Stanford, was recently asked to contribute his ideas on the links between progressive economics and real-world social change movements for a forthcoming collection: The Handbook of Alternative Theories of Political Economy, edited by Frank Stilwell, Tim Thornton, and David Primrose, forthcoming in 2022 from Edward Elgar Press in the UK.

In the essay, Jim reflects on his own experiences trying to integrate progressive economic theorising and research with on-the-ground campaigns for economic, social, and environmental justice. While there is a natural synergy between progressive economics and social change organising, there are also challenges and barriers to more effective partnership between these two worlds. The essay proposes several ‘best practices’ that both researchers and activists can consider as they try to forge stronger cooperation.

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