Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, ahead-of-print 2022

Emerging in the mid-2010s, the Foundational Economy has been heralded as ‘a compelling counter-project against neoliberalism’ and ‘an alternative pathway … [for] progressive political renewal’. Grounded in a review of cross-disciplinary debates, this paper introduces the concept of the Foundational Economy and places it in relation to heterodox geographic theories of socio-economic development such as the ‘social economy’ and ‘diverse economies’ literature. Whilst there are clear overlaps, the concept of the Foundational Economy can be distinguished through its commitment to (a) a zonal perspective; (b) a focus on maximalist social innovations; and (c) the reconstitution of citizenship. In radical combination, it is argued that the lens of the Foundational Economy facilitates ‘a trenchant critique and denaturalization of current conditions, in tandem with creative explorations of the political economy of alternatives’. The paper concludes by reflecting on current oversights and future research trajectories for Foundational Economy research.