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Changing Relations Among Market, State, and Civil Society

changingrelations

Workshop 19-21 October 2017 - Globalization and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are posing serious challenges to the values of social justice, global common good and human dignity, as denounced by Pope Francis in both Evangelii Gaudium (2013) and Laudato Si’ (2015). This requires a fresh look that integrates the advances of the economy in a critical and fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue with other disciplines and with specific actors in economic, social, political and business practices, as part of a philosophical, theological and pastoral reflection. For that, we have programmed a Seminary of three days (October 19-21, 2017) at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS), in Vatican City.

Taking its inspiration from the encyclical letter Caritas in Veritate (CV, 2009) by Pope Benedict XVI, particularly from its proposal for linking the logic of markets, State and civil society – which has the explicit approval of the current Pope – the workshop aims at advancing new forms of cooperation among these three entities. In a world in which we constantly question what determines our well-being, the fundamental intuition is that the economy cannot simply be concerned with minimizing the costs of production of commodities or maximizing the profits. Such reductionist stance does not allow us to solve the acute problems of the present day.

Every person, in interpreting his/her own skills and desires, is embedded in a physical and social place believed to offer the utmost chance of a better life. This means that the deus agitans of the system of relationships that foment the well-being lies in the real flesh-and-blood human beings who belong to local relational systems. It is, therefore, crucial how these actors behave as agents of change with respect to the values, attitudes and institutions of the social structure to which they belong. 

The workshop takes as its lighthouse the “how question”, i.e. how to implement feasible strategies to avoid exclusion and to stop the process of going on exclusions. Therefore, the focus will be on therapy, rather than on diagnostics. We believe that for an ethical, politically just and economically efficient market articulation, the State and civil society can contribute significantly to this. As Pope Francis continuously recalls, it is not sufficient to limit our efforts to the factum. What is required is to move a step forward in the direction of faciendum.

 

Themes of the Seminary

Day 1

1st Session (introduction): The articulation between the logics of markets, the State and civil society according to the encyclicals Caritas in Veritate and Evangelii Gaudium

Guiding questions: Why does Caritas in Veritate and Evangelii Gaudium give central importance to the articulation of the logics of the market, the State and civil society? What anthropological, theological, sociological and economic visions lie behind the need for integration between the principles of exchange of equivalents, redistribution and reciprocity as proposed by these documents? Which suggestions can be given for a fruitful interdisciplinary dialogue in such a direction?

2nd Session: The articulation between the logics of markets, the State and Civil Society from a cultural point of view

Guiding questions: What possibilities does a culture and an economy of gift has to flourish in today’s world marked by so many political, social, religious and environmental conflicts and tensions? What sources, traditions and specific cultural matrices would be necessary to resort to in order to integrate the current economy within a frame of values, practices and human relations, so as to increase their productive, ethical, social and environmental performance? We give because we have received. If so, why don’t we give more? Why do we stop giving? Why do we suppress our disposition to give? One answer could be: to protect ourselves, because giving and receiving a gift is the most risky form of circulation of things. Is it so? 

Granted that a full understanding of moral must explain not only how people come to behave morally, but also how they can behave inhumanely and still retain their self-respect and feel good about themselves, which mechanisms by which people selectively disengage moral self-regulation from their harmful conduct are today in operation? Which measures can be enforced to combat moral disengagement? How can a moral social engagement be promoted? 

How Catholic Social Teaching might contribute to repulse the insidious danger of “chronological snobbery” in the sense of C.S. Lewis, i.e. the uncritical acceptance of anything merely because it belongs to the intellectual trend of our present?

Day 2

3rd Session: Building bridges between the market and civil society

Guiding questions: What can the current economic thought contribute today towards the convergence between the logics of the market, the State and civil society, as proposed in Caritas in Veritate? Is it theoretically and practically feasible to conceive a conception of the market that integrates the logics of contract with the logic of reciprocity and gift? What changes should occur in the academic, institutional and policy worlds in order to foster the development of a market economy open to the ethical, social and environmental dimensions without losing its dynamism and innovative capacity? Should the market be adapted to the new vulnerable circumstances in order for civil society to trust in it again? 

4th Session: The articulation between the logics of markets, the State and Civil Society from a political point of view

Guiding questions: What is the current state – from the political perspective – of the relations between the logics of market, the State and civil society? What institutional and political instruments are needed in order to foster a more positive interaction between the logic of exchange – expanded by the market – the bureaucratic logic characteristic of the State, and the logic of reciprocity – more typically of the civil society – so to achieve the national, international and global common good? What types of public policies are needed in order to promote a culture of business and economy that integrates productivity, profitability, and competitiveness with reciprocity, inclusion, social fraternity, and sustainability?

Day 3

5th Session: New popular and social economic practices

Guiding questions: What is the situation today in the world of the economic practices that attempt to integrate the logic of productivity with the logic of reciprocity and gift? (See Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei, 2013). Do these new experiences (social enterprises, civil and solidaristic enterprises, inclusive business, ethical finance, microcredit, fair trade, responsible consumption, B-corps, etc.) have real possibilities of expansion within the capitalist system, or will they remain as marginal practices? What new instruments and actions are needed to achieve greater integration between conventional capitalist firms and these new alternative experiences, without them losing their specificity? What kind of leadership is needed in order for these new practices to flourish and expand globally? 

6th Session: The articulation between the logics of markets, the State and Civil Society as a response to the current social challenges in a globalized world from an economic point of view

Guiding questions: Which practical role can the Church’s social thought play in a process of interdisciplinary and cultural dialogue leading to the emergence of a new vision that integrates the logics of the market, the State and civil society and guides it to a global common good? (See PASS, Reaffirming Global Solidarity, Restoring Humanity, 2016) 

While the protection of workers’ rights remains mainly organized on a national basis, capital is fully globalized. It is this asymmetry that has guaranteed a new form of competition: the one between “free” labor and “slave” labor (See PASS, Human Trafficking: Issues Beyond Criminalization, Vatican City, 2015). Don’t we need a global initiative to arrive at a General Agreement on Wages and Labor for the protection of workers’ rights?

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