Socialist economics is characterized by social ownership and operation of the means of production. This means that the control and management of resources, factories, and other productive assets are in the hands of society as a whole, rather than in the hands of a small group of individuals or corporations.
There are many different forms of socialism, each with its own unique economic model. Autonomous cooperatives are one common form of socialist organization, in which workers collectively own and manage their own workplaces. Another form of socialism is direct public ownership, in which production is carried out directly for use rather than for profit. In both cases, the goal is to prioritize the needs of society as a whole, rather than the interests of a small group of owners or shareholders.
Socialist systems that utilize markets for allocating capital goods and factors of production among economic units are designated market socialism. In these systems, prices are set by supply and demand, but the means of production are owned and controlled by society as a whole. When planning is utilized, the economic system is designated as a socialist planned economy. In a planned economy, production is centrally coordinated by a planning authority, rather than by the market.
Non-market forms of socialism usually include a system of accounting based on calculation-in-kind to value resources and goods. This means that resources are valued not based on their monetary price, but on their actual physical or labour inputs.
Marxian economics provided a foundation for socialism based on analysis of capitalism. Marx believed that capitalism was inherently unstable and exploitative, and that socialism offered a better path forward for society. Neoclassical economics and evolutionary economics have also contributed to socialist thought, providing comprehensive models of socialism that take into account both economic efficiency and social justice.
During the 20th century, proposals and models for both socialist planned and market economies were based heavily on neoclassical economics or a synthesis of neoclassical economics with Marxian or institutional economics. These models have varied widely in their effectiveness, but they have all been driven by a common goal: to create an economic system that prioritizes the needs of society as a whole, rather than the interests of a small groups.
In conclusion, socialist economics is a diverse field that encompasses a range of economic theories, practices, and norms. At its core, socialist economics is characterized by social ownership and operation of the means of production, and a commitment to prioritizing the needs of society as a whole over the interests of a small groups. While there are many different forms of socialism, they are all united by a common goal: to create a more just and equitable society through a more democratic and egalitarian economic system.