Intuitively, the link between literature and economics is not expressly apparent. Following an analysis of the two disciplines, my assertion is that these two fields are inextricably linked. Literature serves as a reflection of a nation’s economic status and that it is the engine of economic progress.
Historically and currently, the two disciplines of economic thought and literary discourse have been directly intertwined and proportionate. Evidence of this is found in the writings of the Vedic peoples of Indo-Europe (c. as “humanistic economics” – a perspective that infuses elements of humanistic psychology, moral philosophy, political science, sociology, and common sense into mainstream economic thought.
It would not be exaggerating the significance of literature to say that the basis of civilization, as we know it, is rooted in literature.
Speaking of the centrality of literature in a nation’s culture, one recalls the words of American author, Ray Bradbury, who said, “You don’t need to burn books to destroy a culture. Just keep people from reading each other.”
Literature has played (and continues to play) a central role in the evolution of society. Literary thought has served as the foundation for religions, philosophies, arts and culture itself. Throughout contemporary history, literature has also served as a tool of revolution – think: Mao’s “Little Red Book”, which helped lift China out of its “Century of Humiliation”, until become the regional superpower it is today.
Britain’s Industrial Revolution history is also replete with highly influential literary works – writings such as Charles Dickens’ ‘Hard Times’, Daniel Defoe’s ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and Maria Edgeworth’s ‘Ennui’., who helped shape public discourse during this time of great upheaval. The same goes for the French and Russian revolutions. The revolutionary literature of the subcontinent during the British occupation – which needs no introduction – also followed the same pattern, where public consciousness was awakened by literature, by knowledge, by narratives, by inspiration; and after decades of hard struggle, lasting change has occurred. The rest, as they say, is history.
The indigenous literature of Pakistan, which has its roots in the literary traditions of the subcontinent and South Asia, came into its own when Pakistan became a nation. The new nation-state inherited a rich literary and cultural heritage and within a few years considerable literary work began to take shape in all major Pakistani languages: Punjabi, Urdu, English, Pashto, Sindhi, Siraiki, Farsi and Baloch. In the years immediately following the partition of the subcontinent, Pakistan’s literary output was heavily focused on internalizing the prevailing socio-economic turmoil of the time. Gradually, narratives became more progressive, and Pakistani literature evolved to merge the diverse linguistic forms and literary styles indigenous to the region, highlighting the complex class system, social issues and concerns, and continuing economic forces. to shape life. of all Pakistanis.
The rise of today’s economic powers, America, Japan, Germany, over the last 3 centuries has occurred largely through technological, social and cultural innovation – which has its roots in academia and literature. The dilemma, however, is that economists and authors have often explored the same topics and concerns, but in disparate ways, almost as if they each had their own language. A study of economic history, through a literary lens, shows how large and complex forces shape the lives of ordinary people, and thus the economy as a whole.
Literature serves as a window on the economic life of humans, it provides illustrations of “economic theories at work”. Literature enables audiences to connect emotionally to people’s experiences, with regard to products, markets, class divisions, as well as their roles as consumers, workers and producers.
The novel itself evolved as a way to democratize information, challenging inequality in some way, allowing the formally illiterate masses to access knowledge and insight in a serialized, miniature format. , not quite unlike the role of the Internet in our lives today. .
My claim today is that economic discourse is (and always has been) rooted in the thinking of great literary authors; their far-reaching contributions continue to shape economic decision-making today.
Consider, for example, the base and superstructure theory of Marxism, “Base” refers to the forces of production (materials and resources that generate the goods needed by a society), while “Superstructure” describes all other aspects of society, such as ideology, culture, philosophy, art and of course literature. Marx astutely observed that the basis shapes the superstructure, and that the superstructure maintains the base – thus establishing a strong link between the economy of a nation-state and its literary production.
The influence of literature extends not only to financial economics, but also to political economy. Opinion leaders such as John Stuart Mill, Adam Smith, Max Weber gave birth to entire systems of thought and political discourse through their literary production.
It would be remiss to further develop the link between literature and economics without mentioning the concept of “narrative economies,” by Yale economist Robert Shiller. Narrative Economies is interested in “the study of the diffusion and dynamics of popular narratives; stories, especially those of human interest and emotion, and how these change over time, to understand economic fluctuations.
The literature offers a new perspective to economists’ questions by highlighting the socio-cultural context in which the public and the economy operate. Well-rounded professionals from the disciplines of the humanities (especially literature and art) offer new perspectives to companies and their modus operandi.
Rather than adopting a purely theoretical position, policies should instead be aligned with the experiences of the people they intend to serve. In this way, policy frameworks will be tempered with a nuanced understanding of human behavior. And to that end, nothing is more valuable than literature.
To understand (and thereby change) existing economic realities, it is becoming increasingly clear that technical expertise is not enough….Storytelling and storytelling provide the insight and power to change the world.
We at Bank of Punjab remain committed to doing our part for all that matters to uplift our future generations and ensure the sustainability of our society’s well-being and prosperity; supporting all activities that are important to the development of a community and its socio-economic landscape – even activities that are not traditionally seen as impacting the economy (and therefore are not on the radar of commercial organizations).
Initiatives such as the prestigious literary festivals in Karachi and Lahore are essential for the development of a society as a whole and, by extension, for the development of its economy; The Bank of Punjab is proud to have been the title sponsor of these auspicious festivals and wishes to extend its support for such activities across the country for uniform progress and growth at all levels.
My thesis above is to prove that the promotion of literature, art and culture has a direct impact on the economic well-being and sustainable growth of any nation, which ultimately benefits to its commercial organisations; they just have to be patient and forward-looking. With this awareness and recognition, it is absolutely imperative that business organizations, like The Bank of Punjab, intensify and wholeheartedly support these literary pursuits, for the building of character and the betterment of our future generations.