International Workshop on Frugality

The University Antwerp organized an international workshop jointly with the European SPES Forum focusing on the research project “Spirituality and the Economics of Frugality” in April 20-21, 2006 in Antwerp, Belgium. The workshop focused on the spiritual concept of frugality and its economic applicability in present day context. The intention was to create an overview of the different spiritual approaches to frugality in Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Islamic and Philosophical traditions. The general assumption is that, although frugality is contrary to consumerism and excessive economic growth, it is not contrary to economic rationality. It challenges mainstream economics to introduce non-material and non-instrumental values in economic decision-making. Issues of particular importance include What kind of arguments do we have to reintroduce frugality in economic life today? Should we consider frugality as a privileged form of spiritual capital? How can we connect frugality to more accepted ideas as sustainability in business, ethical consumption or distributive justice? How can we escape the pitfall of instrumentalization? What kind of practices can realize and promote frugality today? The workshop resulted in a book “Frugality: Rebalancing Material and Spiritual Values in Economic Life” published by Peter Lang in Oxford in 2008.