The Corset Economy has been over a decade in the making, growing organically out of digesting and considering years of research on countless scenario projects managed by Shirin. Over the past 20 years she has interviewed countless incredibly smart and accomplished individuals across many different industries and countries to gain their insights on key questions and issues for the future. These have been as diverse as the Director General of WHO, CEO of BHP Billiton, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs International, Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Harvard Kennedy School, Chief Policy Adviser at Greenpeace and Editor of New Scientist.

Over time, Shirin noticed that the same questions and issues kept on emerging in enquiring about the future in that individuals were looking at the wrong level – the micro not the macro. In order to meaningfully answer questions about the future and the disparate phenomena challenging our world, it was necessary to look at the tectonic shifts underneath them all from a systemic perspective. In trying to understand these shifts, Shirin realised it was the corseting of the mass middle that was underpinning so many other issues. She did a deep dive into economics to better understand these trends and pulled together her ideas and findings into a first draft of a book.

In 2016, Shirin gave her draft book to Leila to read for feedback which was the beginning of the next phase of the Corset Economy. We each brought different perspectives; older and younger generation, theoretical and practical perspectives and experience working in the Global North and Global South. By working together we strengthened the Corset Economy concept, identified the blind spots of each other and make it more communicable – meaning the whole became much greater than the sum of the parts. This is when we decided to share the Corset Economy digitally, creating many different, practical resources, with the book to follow at a later date.