Path Breaker: Manfred Max-Neef

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Path Breakers & Path Finders
Manfred Max-Neef. Image: CEPAUR

As part our initiative to celebrate the many voices who have inspired and guided the work of systems change over many years, we are focusing today on Manfred Max-Neef. UCRF’s hope is to diversify the paths and journeys within the field, led by local guides.

“I severed my ties with the trends imposed by the economic establishment, disengaged myself from “objective abstractions” and decided to “step into the mud”.

In 2019, Manfred Max-Neef passed away. The UCRF board wishes to acknowledge Manfred Max Neef as one of the most influential guides to our work in fashion and sustainability….

Max-Neef (1932-2019) was a Chilean economist who worked against the grain of established hierarchical ideas about fundamental human needs. While the hierarchical approach presented needs as stages of human experience to be progressed through, with some needs only met as wealth increases (an approach that was used to justify economic growth logic); Max-Neef instead devised a taxonomy of fundamental human needs, that presented all needs as equal and present regardless of income or type of society. His taxonomy unfolded sophisticated expressions of needs and how to meet them with material and non-material (psychological) satisfiers. As such Max-Neef shaped subsequent scholarship and practical understanding about the purpose of clothing, dress and fashion business; placing concern for all people, regardless of wealth or type of society, as the living purpose for human activity.

If you are interested in Max-Neef’s work, one starting point could be: From the Outside Looking in: Experiences in Barefoot Economics. Or this short video.

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