Sustainable Development

The “Right Development” Approach

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Following last week’s post that critiqued the history of the development industry, I’d like to propose an alternative model of development, which emerged from my research on the Santi Asoke Buddhist Reform movement of Thailand. After studying for a year what made Asoke communities so successful, I determined that in order to raise the quality […]

Sustainable Development

Economic Growth, SAPs, and Aid: Oh My! A History of the Global Development Industry

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The concept of development implies positive change, and it is clearly an ideal toward which individuals, groups, and nations strive. But the term carries much more baggage than that. The Western world’s conceptualization of development—unilinear growth, evolution, or maturation toward an ever more perfect form—has its roots in evolutionary theories of the nineteenth and early […]

Sustainable Development

Global Volunteer: Ethnography of a Tsunami Aid Organization in Thailand

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The tsunami of December 26, 2004 swept away entire villages in Khao Lak, Thailand: houses, fishing boats, family businesses, shrimp farms, livestock, vegetable gardens, and people. Those who survived faced the seemingly insurmountable work of rebuilding their lives, but they didn’t have to do it alone. Volunteers from across Thailand and across the globe poured […]

Ethical Economies

“Resisting Global Capitalism”: Lessons from the Asoke Alternative

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“Resisting global capitalism” is one way to frame efforts to create conditions that oster socially just and environmentally sustainable economic activity. Far from being passive victims of global processes, individuals and social groups across the globe endeavor in diverse ways to resist, reshape, appropriate, and create alternatives to the dominant neoliberal economic model. Alternatives that […]

Ethical Economies

All is Not Well with Thai Buddhist Economics: Feminist Critique of Inequality

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The most significant flaw of the Thai Buddhist economic models described in the last few posts is that their ability to empower all members of society to achieve well being may be hampered by structural inequalities that result from the inherent hierarchy of their philosophical underpinnings—Theravada Buddhism—and the context in which they are implemented. Theravada […]

Ethical Economies

Two Thai Buddhist Economic Models

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Though Buddhist economics was presented as a theory in the previous post, two operational models actually exist in Thailand: 1. The Royal Thai Sufficiency Economy Model, which operates on the principles of  moderation, reasonableness, self-immunity, wisdom and integrity, was publicly introduced by the King of Thailand following the 1997 economic  crisis and is now championed […]

Ethical Economies

The “Buddhist” Part of Buddhist Economics

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This post reviews some aspects of Buddhist ontology and the practical teachings that serve as the foundation for Buddhist economics. If you had some questions while reading the previous post, “Is Buddhist Economics an Oxymoron?” then this might help. Buddhism’s central doctrine, the Four Noble Truths, teaches that there is suffering (dukkha); the cause of suffering […]

Ethical Economies

Is Buddhist Economics an Oxymoron?

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Buddhist economics and mainstream Western economics are not as radically opposed as suggested by their stereotypes, the monk and the stockbroker. Like its Western sibling, the Buddhist model is based on individual rational choices concerning material wellbeing. The accumulation of wealth is allowed, and in many cases even encouraged. Significant differences emerge, however, upon closer […]

Wellbeing

Specifying Elements of Wellbeing…Democractically

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As I was writing yesterday’s post, How to Thrive: Specifying the Universal Elements of Wellbeing, I started thinking about this paper I had presented at the International Conference on “Happiness and Public Policy” in Bangkok several years ago. It elaborated a democratic procedure through which communities could create a list of capabilities they wanted to […]

Wellbeing

Why Wellbeing?

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When most people think about the wellbeing of society, they tend to think in financial terms—how is the economy doing? Is it growing? By what percent? Yet there are fundamental problems with the overemphasis on economic growth as THE path to prosperity. Besides the fact that it’s based on Western values of material accumulation and […]