The Economics Behind Community Organising


On Tuesday an American named Arnie Graf visited Exeter to meet with various members of the community to discuss how to organise in the community. It should be said at this point that Arnie Graf is a director of IAF, over here consulting Ed Miliband and the Labour Party on this topic.

The economics of community organising is about trust lending and actual economics. However, this post will be discussing the underlying themes of community organising which is more easily described in an economic framework.

There are three sectors in the economy and society: Private, Public, and Voluntary. The three sectors do not interact much, but when the do there is usually information asymmetries. For progress to be made on an issue there needs to be a symmetrical flow of information between the parties concerned and co-operation in order for the issue to be resolved. Of course these are ideals, but even if the asymmetry is less progress has been made.

As Keynesians, it should be pointed out that community organising is very much based on demand. Demand drives supply. This is because if you create a community based project or start on an issue it is likely that another organisation is already operating in that community offering the same programme, or the community might not care about the particular issue at hand.

Demand drives supply in that there has to be a need/concern for the project/issue to take place.Of course demand can be created by talking to individuals in the community about an issue and create demand that way.

By creating demand and evening out the asymmetries, community organising relies quite heavily on trust. Trust that the project will be carried out. Trust that all parties involved will be open when dealing with one another.

The Animal Spirits are not dead, they are just in different hunting grounds.

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