The Handbook of Diverse Economies
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The Handbook of Diverse Economies

Edited by J. K. Gibson-Graham and Kelly Dombroski

Economic diversity abounds in a more-than-capitalist world, from worker-recuperated cooperatives and anti-mafia social enterprises to caring labour and the work of Earth Others, from fair trade and social procurement to community land trusts, free universities and Islamic finance. The Handbook of Diverse Economies presents research that inventories economic difference as a prelude to building ethical ways of living on our dangerously degraded planet. With contributing authors from twenty countries, it presents new thinking around subjectivity and methodology as strategies for making other worlds possible.
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Chapter 44: More-than-human agency: from the human economy to ecological livelihoods

Ethan Miller

Abstract

What is economic agency and where is it situated? Who or what is the source of dynamism and change in economic relations? Common answers to these questions tend to assume a discrete human subject at the centre of the action, labouring, producing, transacting, and negotiating various forms of care and access. Yet recent developments in posthumanist and radical ecological thought challenge this formulation to the core. If the ‘human subject’ is, in fact, itself an assemblage of multiple beings and processes, and if our livelihoods utterly depend on the sustenance provided by more-than-human others, then economic agency cannot be understood merely in terms of human choice. This chapter maps out three conceptual strategies – inclusion, extension, and distribution – by which diverse economy scholars have begun to challenge and reconfigure the notions of agency and livelihood. Each of these strategies has key strengths and limitations, and ultimately they may point toward a radical challenge to the very concept of ‘economy’ itself.

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