The Current Economy: What's Your Experience?

In preparation for picturing what's possible, we explored our baseline experiences of the economy to date.

In 2024, Bath City Doughnut Learning Group is working through the 7 Principles of Doughnut economics and their interconnections to better understand and be equipped for whole systems change.  

In our first session of the year, we prepared for exploring what's possible, by establishing a shared baseline on what is, via our everyday experiences of the economy as it currently stands.

We approached it this way because - as a group aiming to comprise an increasingly broad range of people from/representing different sectors, professions, and socio-economic backgrounds, in a comparatively wealthy city - our experiences of the UK's current economic thinking are not always negative.

High interest rates are beneficial to those who have money in the bank, for example. Capital gains and rent income on land and housing has provided many with security in retirement.

So to clear our pathway towards what we proposed to do, we had to spend a little time together on why we were doing it, and listen to as many perspectives as possible.

To do so, we considered the following statements, reflecting current economic thinking:

  1.  GDP. For the UK to be an economic success on the world stage, we increase the monetary values of all our goods and services, alongside financial transactions.
  2. Self-Contained. Businesses provide all the goods and services we want and need, and we work for the businesses to get the money to buy them from them. A short, closed cycle.
  3. 'Rational Economic Man'. 'Man' is constantly portrayed to be alone, self-interested, calculating, unchanging and dominant over nature. As such, we have largely adopted these characteristics.
  4. Mechanical Equilibrium. The economy operates like a machine. Its inner workings (inclluding our behaviours) should  - and can! - be simplified, so the outcomes can be predicted and controlled.
  5. Growth will even it up. GDP puts wealth, value and opportunity into the hands of a few. This inequality is a necessary evil, however, as growth, while the cause, is also the (eventual) solution.
  6. Growth will clean it up. GDP relies on increasing production and consumption, which pollutes and destroys our life-support systems. But, growth, while the cause, is also the (eventual) solution.
  7. Growth-fixated. The goal is to grow the economy, measured by GDP/financial transactions. Our personal and professional roles within the economy are shaped to meet this objective.

Three questions prompted a discussion on each statement:

  • How does this thinking show up in everyday life?
  • How does this thinking show up in Bath?
  • What are the positives about this way of thinking (if any?)

Each group threw a dice to decide which principle would start their discussion, and seven minutes later, threw again to decide the next, until all were completed.

Deep in discussion!

From strong feelings of being trapped in consumption, our social and self-worth connected only to wealth and status, and no time or value given to activities beyond earning and buying, to everyday issues of traffic, pollution, and centralised decision-making, vibrant discussions took place on why we aim to enable the shift.

Equally, the positives that came through - such as the aforementioned security for some, the ease of sticking with the established narrative, the 'aspirational' aspect of increasing social status through 'stuff', the simplicity of a system that can be communicated in numbers - demonstrated where our proposed alternative would need extra consideration.

Emerging themes for further exploration.

"This was such a brilliant and illuminating session [...] Lovely, as ever, to meet new and inspiring people."

"Insightful and great company as these sessions always are."

This fundamental exercise set the scene for the second session: Bath City Doughnut Learning Session - Principle 1: Change the Goal.





    Join the DEAL Community!

    Get inspired, connect with others and become part of the movement. No matter how big or small your contribution is, you’re welcome to join!