Economy and Society

Operations At An Amazon.com Inc. Fulfillment Centre And An Argos Distribution Warehouse On Cyber Monday
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The Economy and Society Initiative seeks to replace neoliberalism with a new "common sense" about how the economy works and the aims it should serve to improve the lives of people.

Overview

Neoliberalism—the free-market, anti-government, growth-at-all-costs approach to economic and social policy—has dominated policy debates in the United States and much of the world for the last half century. But it has outlived whatever usefulness it might once have had, and today its free-market fundamentalism causes more problems than it solves. From skyrocketing wealth inequality to the climate crisis to systemic racism, neoliberalism offers no credible solutions for society’s biggest challenges. We need more than just new policy ideas to confront these seismic issues, we need a major shift in the underlying terms of debate about the economy and society. We need a new intellectual paradigm that reimagines what’s possible and offers economic justice and prosperity for people around the world.

The Hewlett Foundation is working to foster the development of a new “common sense” about how the economy works and the aims it should serve. By funding efforts across the ideological spectrum, we seek to support the development, translation, and transmission of ideas that could form a new intellectual paradigm for years to come.

Goals

  • Contribute to the development of ideas and debates that can make up a new intellectual paradigm better suited to address the biggest challenges of the 21st Century.
  • Support grantees across the ideological spectrum to encourage diverse, decentralized idea-generation for determining the successor to neoliberalism.
  • Support the chorus of voices calling for a new, better way of thinking about economy, government, and society.

Ideas + Practice

Our Grantmaking

Roosevelt Institute
for general operating support
Harvard University
for support of the program on Law and Political Economy at Harvard Law School
Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism
for business leader engagement
Stanford University
for the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences’ Framework for a Moral Economy Project

Learn More

In 2018, the Hewlett Foundation launched an exploratory effort to understand whether and how philanthropy could play a role in supporting thinking about what should come after neoliberalism. We awarded more than $10 million in grants to a diverse set of recipients, from Oren Cass of American Compass to Rev. William Barber II’s Repairers of the Breach and the Roosevelt Institute. After seeing the potential for real impact in this area, in December 2020 the foundation announced an initial five-year, $50 million-dollar commitment to seed the debates, ideas, and iterative thinking that can help create a successor to neoliberalism, though we expect the development and mainstreaming of a new intellectual paradigm to be a society-wide, decades-long effort.

Unlike many of our individual grantees, the Hewlett Foundation is a neutral player that isn’t advocating for one specific solution over another. We are explicitly agnostic as to what the paradigm replacing neoliberalism should be, seeking only to spur on the continuation of an idea-generation process.

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