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The Family: the Invisible Factor

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That the family is a key piece in the building up of society has been an axiom that never needed evidence to support it. Today it is strongly contested in political and economic practices and, of course, is also under attack by gender ideology in the West.

No one questions either that the family was, in the past, also the glue that held the traditional economy together. For someone to suggest that it is the economic solution for escaping the crisis of late capitalism, however, might seem quixotic. Nevertheless, as revealed in an original book, it isn’t an utopia: Josep Miró I Ardevol. Una nueva teoría de la familia (A New Theory of the Family), Ed. CírculoRojo, 2015, 256 págs. Professor Miró i Ardevo’s book reminds us that, in the modern economic equation—including the resolution of the financial crisis—the family can be a crucial variable.

Man, like the social being that he is, tends toward totality, and therefore the personal dynamics of work and stability are reinforced in the family, thus allowing for an easier economic growth.

When a person grows up out of the context of personal security, he tends to consider those with whom he interacts as people who seek, above all, their own interests. This activates a series of defense mechanisms of personal rights and especially high costs of regulation and control. Josep Miró refers to these costs as transactional costs. When an economy is based on anthropological concepts that are contrary to nature, it invests a large quantity of resources to institutional credibility, understood as transparency and a settling of accounts.

The author shows that in the United States in the last few years an increase in transactional costs has been found of up to a hundred per cent in some processes. When the cost of creating new products and services is accompanied by such high costs, the economy is severely weakened. In view of these observations, it seems to me that the author would agree that the companies that are to endure in the long term are not the “transactional” ones, but those that change peoples’ lives and that academics call performative companies, capable of changing the lives of their employees, clients, and investors.  

Josep Miró calls the group of human relations that are interwoven into the fabric of society social capital, a term already in use since the second half of the twentieth century along with other similar denominations: civil economy, free economy, gift economy or communion economy. Social capital includes in the economic equation elements such as family upbringing, confidence, and capacity for human development, key factors in an economy that seeks a sustainable development in the long term.

To social capital is added a moral capital that is the fruit not only of the wealth produced by personal family or social relationships that are obligatory in so many ways (bounding), but that come from human relations based on belonging to a religion, a community, or common moral tradition and that lead us to seek broader relationships (bridging). These last relationships, born of the moral capital of a society, are the most fruitful.

In the fourth chapter the connection between the age of the population and the creative impulse of a society as a whole becomes even more apparent. The author even emphasizes that the future of Europe and of other economically advantaged countries will depend on the development of large families.

In my opinion, the author’s main thesis is that the economic society can be reformed thanks to a correct development of every family. His argument is based on statistical data and scientific studies which state that, when the family functions as the center of human education, educational institutions save money. When the family works as an engine for creativity, it drives creative action and improves civil and social initiative, etc. Thus the author grants great importance to “human capital” as a key element for economic change.

The sociological studies rigorously provided by the author are based on an anthropological assumption that is often forgotten. The solutions to societal problems that are often caused by technology are not limited to technological solutions.In fact, the solution may not be technological but based on human education. Promoting population growth as a means of long-term sustainable social and economic development ought to mean making an effort to translate from the anthropological reality of man who is a member of a family to the economized comprehension of our capitalistic society, as, in my opinion, the author does.

In the end, professor Miró I Ardevol’s book represents an important effort to communicate the importance of the family to those who understand society mainly in economic terms. Nevertheless, I believe it is important to emphasize that the value of the institution of the family is not limited to that of being a source of social savings, a generator of creativity or an environment for the development of personal talents and abilities. The family is, by natural design, the institution where the human being can reach its greatest development as a woman or as a man.

The family institution is not only understood from the point of view of its social and economic utility. The family reaches its greatest significance when observed from the perspective of the dominant culture that is behind the use of the political and economic instruments that make up society. If the dominant culture can change thanks to promotion of large families, then the use of the economic instruments will also change.

The book is of great interest for academics in the areas of economics and family that are familiar with the importance of the family institution in macroeconomic terms: saving, sustainable development, social promotion, human creativity, etc. And it is also an adequate book for those who are interested in political philosophy and in the theory of organizations because, in the end, the family is the cell of human society, understood as democratic organization, civil grouping and religious assembly.

 

 

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