731394 Alternative forms of economic organisation in theory and practical experience

Semester hours
Lecturer (assistant)
Kniepert, Martin
Offered in
Wintersemester 2019/20
Languages of instruction


Utopias - designed for entire societies, as an experiment for subareas or even for personal life plans - are driven by wishes and ideas. However, they do not arise without regard to natural conditions and technological possibilities; utopias are often quite explicitly understood as an alternative to an existing grievance. They are typically encouraged by a healthy dose of imagination, commitment, creative will and, if necessary, frustration tolerance. In any case, utopian thinking presupposes that a world other than the all too obviously given world is possible.

Whether and which utopian designs will prevail, or whether it all is left with continued extrapolation of previous developments, will be decided socially. The development of innovative as well as the resumption of traditional forms of economic organizations can be important impulses here. Also existing concepts may turn out to be malleable and thus offer viable perspectives.

The aforementioned social decision-making process is characterized by quite contradictory interests. This is reflected not least in the relevance given to issues such as the overuse of natural resource, national economic competitiveness, or global development and distribution. The deeper causes of these contradictions may lie in the defence of vested interests or in the misjudgement of actual possibilities. With this, property rights and responsibility for public goods are issues to be discussed.

Against this background, this course will cover concepts of a common welfare economy, complementary currencies, co-working, crowd funding, community supported agriculture, and others. At first, they are viewed from an operational perspective, also by using available testimonials. Furthermore, they are classified on the basis of their special characteristics in the overall range of organizational possibilities. Even if the differences to conventional forms of economy may only be small, possibly even exist only in a different kind of social interaction, they may still show considerable impact beyond the project under consideration.

Previous knowledge expected

No prior knowledge is expected that would not be covered by a bachelor's degree and a living interest in social science issues.

Objective (expected results of study and acquired competences)

The students get to know different alternative economic forms. They are able to classify their particular characteristics according to criteria of general social development concepts. This enables them to develop perspectives for these concepts and to discuss them in a wider context.
You can find more details like the schedule or information about exams on the course-page in BOKUonline.