Toward a Political Economy of Love and Abundance

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* Article: Back to the Future: Toward a Political Economy of Love and Abundance. By Margaret Stout. Administration & Society 42(1):3-37 · March 2010



"This article presents a reconceptualization of public administration within a profoundly different political economy.The depiction is based on an alternative set of assumptions to those most typically held about human nature and the corollary approach to political and economic life. Ideas are drawn from two sets of scholars, each writing respectively at the turn of the last two centuries. As both historical periods are marked by claims of progressivism, the reconceptualization is framed around an alternative understanding of “progress” and exploration of a political economy that would support this different meaning. Specifically, in a relational rather than material understanding of progress, public administration would be transformed into a process of self-governance within political and economic institutions based on assumptions of generative rather than degenerative principles that replace fear with love, scarcity with abundance, self-interest with mutual interest, and dialectical competition and hierarchy with collaboration. Although this might sound utopian at face value, no such notions of perfection are assumed. Rather, the methods of progress—collaboration and cocreation—are simply assumed to be possible and the proper basis for social institutions seeking to foster them. This reconceptualization offers a transformational role for public administration in advocating a new meaning of progress, cocreating political democracy, democratizing the economy, and changing the role of government, in addition to a facilitative role in the resulting political economy."