Political Economy for Human Rights: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Political Economy for Human Rights

1st Edition

By Manuel Couret Branco


151 pages

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Hardback: 9781138732070
pub: 2019-07-03
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Over time there has been a miscommunication between mainstream economics and human rights that has paved the way to a justificatory ideology that validates the submission of human rights to the logic of market capitalism. This book shows how the discourse of mainstream economics is intrinsically opposed to the strengthening of human rights and outlines the principles upon which a human rights-based political economy can be built.

Considering a variety of recognized human rights, such as the right to water and sanitation, the right to social security, the right to work, cultural freedom and democracy, this book describes how mainstream economics theory conflicts with these rights and explores alternative modes of thinking that incorporate human rights concerns into economics. Moreover, the book also reflects on the teaching of political economy for human rights. It sets out that a political economy favourable to human rights must be pluralist, interdisciplinary, participatory, de-commodified, non-utilitarian and non-consequentialist. The author proposes that it must not only assume the performative character of economics but also, and especially, its transformative purpose.

Political Economy for Human Rights will offer students, academics, activists and policy makers useful tools to understand some of the main contradictions of contemporary societies and new paths leading to a more just and fraternal world. It will also be of great interest to the general public concerned with human rights and economic issues.

Table of Contents


1. Political Economy and Human Rights: Engaging the Conversation

1.1 The Economic Dimension of Human Rights

1.2 The Conflicting Languages of Economics and Human Rights

1.3 Political Economy and Human Rights Engaging the Conversation

2. Decommodification for Human Rights

2.1 Water, Social Security and Securing Human Rights

2.2 Commodification against Human Rights

2.3 Decommodifying Human Rights

3. Political Economy for the Right to Work

3.1 The Right to Work

3.2 Economics Versus the Right to Work

3.3 Political Economy for the Right to Work

4. Political Economy for Cultural Freedom

4.1 Culture as an Obstacle to Development

4.2 The shallowness of Cultural Determinism

4.3 Political Economy for Cultural Freedom

5. Political Economy for Democracy

5.1. Economics versus democracy

5.2 Political Economy for a Substantive Democracy

6. Teaching Political Economy for Human Rights

6.1 Teaching economics against human rights

6.2 Teaching Political Economy for Human Rights

6.3 A brief road map for teaching human rights-based political economy




About the Author

Manuel Couret Branco is full professor of economics at the University of Évora, Portugal. His teaching mainly focuses on development economics, history of economic thought and political economy of human rights. His research interests concern the interaction of economic and non-economic factors, such as ethics, politics or culture.

About the Series

Routledge Frontiers of Political Economy

In recent years, there has been widespread criticism of mainstream economics. This has taken many forms, from methodological critiques of its excessive formalism, to concern about its failure to connect with many of the most pressing social issues. This series provides a forum for research which is developing alternative forms of economic analysis. Reclaiming the traditional 'political economy' title, it refrains from emphasising any single school of thought, but instead attempts to foster greater diversity within economics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / Theory