Privileges in planning; relational and transactional economies

Planning is often a habit of privilege, and hard-earned for many in ways that others can hardly fathom.

I’ve been mulling over the strategies we tend to see in relational economies versus those in traditional transacitonal ones.
i.e. the economy most people know about is transactional and runs solely on money.
Relational economies however, display patterns in the Solidarity Economy/New Economics or as the writer for Bloomberg calls it, “Detroit’s Survival Economy” are all premised on trust and relationships created/earned between people.

There’s truth to calling it the survival economy–though I take issue with calling the people who use it poor. Poor people often don’t have the wealth of access to many of the workarounds, organizations, and networks that are meant to meet their needs. However, some have a wealth of relationships in their families, friendships, and community who do help make living doable.

And personally, it saddens me to realize the depth of how much these approaches are necessary for many people, and a source of baseless excitement over what will likely be “discovered” as “innovation” by a select few who don’t understand and will not experience poverty. The distinction between innovation from genuine necessity or survival and innovation as an exercise for self-congratulation comes from the assumptions behind them and the luxuries for rebounding to failure.

Reading an article from 2015 by Jessi Streib in the Atlantic hammers in the paradigm

“Isabelle, for example, is the daughter of a farmer and a bartender. (All the survey participants have been given pseudonyms.) Her family did not know how much money each year’s crops or tips would bring in. They did not know when a debt collector would call. Thinking about money could not change the fact that it came in unpredictably and that sometimes there wasn’t enough. With little she could do to change the situation, Isabelle learned to go with the flow. She would not think too much about money, but spend as she needed to get by.

People who grew up with parents who had more money, job security, and power grow up with more stable lives. In these conditions, they learn that managing their resources makes sense—both because their lives are predictable enough that they can plan and because their resources are plentiful enough that they can make meaningful choices. Spouses with middle-class backgrounds wanted to manage their resources by planning.

This difference—taking a hands-off approach or a hands-on one—followed individuals from their pasts and into their marriages.

It shaped nearly every aspect of their adult lives. In regards to money, work, housework, leisure, time, parenting, and emotions, people with working-class roots wanted to go with the flow and see what happened, while their spouses with middle-class backgrounds wanted to manage their resources by planning, monitoring, and organizing.”

I’ll need to read the actual study(ies?). It’s reasonable to suspect the study already draws from a strong bias in the groups it reports–if the couple is already made it as a couple, the study will draw from a sample of participants who were already thinned out. That said, nice to see reports of a happy ending at the end of the article.

And of course, never let the words of another person condemn your own future.


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