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Small is Beautiful (Schumacher) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for Small is Beautiful:

1. It has been over 35 years since Schumacher posited the central tenet of his work—that infinite economic growth is impossible within a finite system. Do you believe he has been vindicated?

2. Just how relevant are Schumacher's ideas today? Some argue Schumacher was a visionary—that his ideas are as important today as when he wrote them; others say his views are outdated and no longer apply to 21st-century conditions. Where do you stand—and on which ideas in particular?

3. Most economists and politicians believe that our consumption-based society has created unprecedented wealth in the West and, therefore, justifies a degree of inequality. How does Schumacher view consumption-based economies? What kind of alternative system or reforms does he propose?

4. Some of the book's insights are aimed at the scientific community, with Schumacher asserting that scientists are incapable of ethical decision-making regarding the direction of their research. Consider his arguments in light of recent advances in stem cell research, cloning, and bio-engineered agricultural products. Do you agree with Schumacher...or are scientists as capable as anyone else, perhaps even more so, to explore the consequences of their work?

5. Schumacher asks a simple but penetrating question: what is progress? How does he answer that question...and how do you? Do you agree or disagree with Schumacher?

6. What are Schumacher's views on assisting developing countries?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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