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Small Is Beautiful, 25th Anniversary Edition: Economics As If People Mattered: 25 Years Later . . . With Commentaries Paperback – June 15, 2000

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About the Author

E. F. SHUMACHER (1911-1977) was a Rhodes Scholar in economics and the head of planning at the British Coal Board. He was also the president of the Soil Association and the founder of the Intermediate Technology Development Group.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Hartley and Marks Publishers (June 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881791695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881791693
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 94 people found the following review helpful By "gwydionoak" on January 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
When I was a student at Brigham Young University in the early 80's, I was introduced by my macroeconomics professor to what many economists of the time considered to be the "great heresy of economic theory." - a copy of Small is Beautiful. He warned me that quoting it in research papers would be most unwise, as the BYU economics department was, and continues to be, a strong proponent of the current economic orthodoxy of infinite economic growth and prosperity that dominates economics even today. He finished by saying that "Schumacher was a radical, no doubt about it. However, he will also turn out to be right in the end."
Truer words were never spoken. There are those who will point out detail errors in Schumacher's work. The book was, after all, written over 25 years ago, and Schumacher would never have considered himself a prophet. Yet the central theme of his work, that infinite economic growth is impossible within a finite system, and the inevitable consequences of ignoring this simple truth have been fully vindicated. Even the most orthodox economists are beginning to see the disasterous environmental and social consequences of their economic policies over the last 50+ years, which Schumacher describes in detail, and warn policy makers that major changes must be made. Schumacher also proposed a highly effective and practical method, Intermediate Technology, to help impoverished and developing nations make the best possible use of modern scientific and technological advances, without the vast (and for countless millions in the world impossible) financial investments and ecological/social consequences. In 1965 Schumacher and a few friends started the Intermediate Technology Development Group ...which continues to develop practical applications of his ideas in the developing world.
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109 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Tony Theil on December 19, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In my college days I struggled with economics and barely passed. My economic professors and the course material were dull, ambiguous, and non-stimulating. None of these adjectives could be used to describe Schumacher's Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered.
Schumacher makes economics come alive with wit, humor, and practicality. His approach is qualitative, not quantitative. A recurring statement throughout the book epitomizes his philosophy, "Why use the computer if you can make the calculation on the back of an envelope"? He gives the science a personality when identifying the disparities between the rich and poor, the educated and uneducated, and the gap between city people and country-folk.
Small is Beautiful created a humanistic economics movement. It's a wholistic approach containing ethical, ecological, and metaphysical components that are missing from the statistical models that solely measure GNP. Schumacher sounded the alarm regarding globalization when asking "how much further 'growth' will be possible, since infinate growth in a finite environment is an obvious impossibility". He was critical of a society that generates unbounded materialism, and motivated by greed and envy.
Some of the more interesting of the 20 essays are: "Peace and Permanence", "The Role of Economics", "Buddhist Economics", "The Greatest Resource - Education", "Technology with a Human Face", "Development of Intermediate Technology", and "Two Million Villages".
Although the book was written in 1973, it is as timely now as it was then. The 25th anniversary edition contains provocative updates provided as sidebars by contributors such as Hazel Henderson, Peter Warshall, Amory Lovins, Godric Bader, et al.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "tdcs" on March 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Few books can make you think in so profound and fundemenatal way than this one. I dont know whether it is a bit naive or we have already lost our innocence even to attempt to live by it..but one thing which really struck me was the utter simplicity and clarity in thought...
Only thing which matters is 'we are human' and 'nothing is as important as human happiness'..there is no other virtue than the attempt at allievating suffering and optmising happiness of all around us....Only people matter...! be it economics, management,technology, science,..arts,...any human endeavour....and unfortunately we are surprised when someone reminds us so....
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
Economists are people who spend half of their time foretelling what will happen, and the other half explaining why what they foresaw didn't happen, right?
Well, not Fritz Shumacher. Today, in 2001, "Small Is Beautiful" is 25 years old, and almost every single prediction in the book, from the power, deshumanization, and cross-borders character of corporation, to the threat to the environment, to the ineffectiveness of liberalism in addressing the problems of the developing world, have become true.
Of special interest are the chapters that deal with adoption of technology, and the role of technology in development. In Schumacher's insights may lie the key to making development an inherent process of each society, instead of an external, massive, and rarely effective effort.
The last few chapters, about "socializing" large corporations, may be somewhat utopian in today's world, but still merit reflection.
Shumacher died soon after having published his book, so he didn't have the opportunity of spreading or developing his work. Still, this is a must read for anyone interested in sound, alternative views to the prevailing ones of "larger is better", or "if what we're doing doesn't work, we must do more of it".
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