Rentiership, 'improperty', and moral economy

Sayer, Andrew (2020) Rentiership, 'improperty', and moral economy. Environment and Planning A. ISSN 0308-518X

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The rentier economy is not only dysfunctional but unjust. In this paper I use a moral economic approach to defend this proposition by going back to basic concepts. Drawing upon classical political economic theory and political theory, and the work of Hobson and Tawney and more recent theorists, I propose a set of complementary distinctions that deepen understanding of rentiership: earned and unearned income; wealth-creating and wealth-extracting investment; property and improperty. I then comment on the relations, similarities and differences between capitalists and rentiers. Next I review the changing relation between critiques of rentiership and notions of ‘free markets’ and ‘property-owning democracy’ in the history of capitalism, with particular emphasis on the relation of neoliberalism to rent-seeking. Finally, I briefly discuss the implications of rentiership for reducing inequality and averting global heating.

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Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Environment and Planning A
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Environment and Planning A, ? (?), 2020, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2020 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Environment and Planning A page: on SAGE Journals Online:
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Deposited On:
10 Feb 2020 10:20
Last Modified:
21 Jan 2023 01:51