Five years ago, we saw the formation, under the chairmanship of Amartya Sen, of the International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP), a collective of 300 social science researchers from around the world. The aim was to develop multi-disciplinary, non-partisan solutions in response to the major issues our societies currently face. Marc Fleurbaey and Marie-Laure Salles-Djelic, who are members of this collective and have actively participated in the publication of its first deliberations and recommendations, take the opportunity offered by this ‘forum’ article to present the perspectives for 21st century social progress identified by the IPSP.
They describe what seem to them to be the most promising institutional reforms to meet current challenges, targeting five major areas of work: 1) moving beyond the ideologies of the 20th century; 2) reforming the market economy to subordinate it to human needs; 3) transforming businesses to make them vehicles of progress, rather than of value-extraction and exploitation; 4) reforming the state to take it beyond its protective function and place it in the service of individual emancipation; and 5) reforming political life to enhance democracy. To make good on these tasks, they identify a number of actors capable of driving social progress.