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The growth paradigm: History, hegemony, and the contested making of economic growthmanship

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... Le processus par lequel la « croissance économique » a été pensée comme phénomène censé assurer le développement des sociétés s'inscrit dans une généalogie que l'on peut faire remonter au moins aux Recherches sur la nature et les causes de la richesse des nations d'Adam Smith (1776) 6 . Mais c'est encore davantage depuis la deuxième partie du XX e siècle qu'elle a eu tendance à être présentée comme un point de passage obligé et un facteur déterminant pour la continuité d'autres processus sociaux (Schmelzer, 2015 ;. Point de passage obligé, parce que, si nous reprenons cette notion utilisée en sociologie des sciences et de l'innovation (Latour, 1995), cette idée 6. Pour des éléments rapides de généalogie intellectuelle, voir par exemple Bailleux et Ost (2016). ...
... Même si les recherches paraissent encore limitées et parcellaires, un ensemble est quand même disponible pour pouvoir comprendre cette focalisation institutionnelle. Matthias Schmelzer (2015) le rappelle, la croissance est un produit discursif qui a une histoire et qui, notamment depuis les années 1950, a pu se déployer dans des situations concrètes grâce au soutien d'acteurs repérables (dans la sphère politico-administrative, dans le monde des affaires, dans les milieux universitaires…). Il repère plus précisément quatre discours qui ont ensemble légitimé, universalisé et naturalisé le « paradigme de la croissance ». ...
... Dans les pays engagés sur ce modèle, les idées ont pu être partagées dans un milieu commun où se retrouvaient élites administratives, politiques et économiques, dont les parcours pouvaient contribuer à construire un accord autour des mêmes impératifs 7 . Le champ des économistes y a également joué un rôle important comme appui intellectuel (Yarrow, 2010), en assurant la construction et la promotion d'une forme de paradigme (Schmelzer, 2015). Le contexte de la guerre froide a même nourri une forme de compétition entre les États-Unis et l'URSS pour 7. Suleiman (1979) avait aussi trouvé ces buts convergents entre élites des secteurs public et privé. ...
Article
Cette contribution propose d’inventorier et d’étudier les explorations relativement formalisées qui ont en commun de considérer non seulement que la croissance n’est pas forcément une condition à la démocratie, mais aussi que cette dernière peut être appuyée sur des logiques économiques autres que les logiques d’accumulation. Plus précisément, l’objectif est de cartographier les propositions présentes dans différentes formes d’explorations relevant de la pensée politique (principalement celles de courants contestant le modèle économique dominant : écologie sociale, décroissance, écosocialisme…), en accordant une attention particulière aux schémas d’organisation politique et d’expression citoyenne qui sont ainsi avancés ou décrits. Dans une perspective de théorie sociale critique, ces constructions intellectuelles deviennent intéressantes à travailler dans la mesure où elles réinterrogent un modèle presque naturalisé qui tend à verrouiller croissance économique et démocratie dans une même vision politico-économique. Un cadre d’analyse est donc proposé pour répertorier les formes de problématisation développées et les options concurrentes ainsi structurées.
... However, the most visible mechanisms by which economists can gain influence-for example by landing a position within an institution such as the World Bank or as a policy advisor to a Minister of Financeare not necessarily the most important. Arguably, more significant over the longer term are myriad of largely invisible ways by which economistic reasoning becomes embedded in institutions such as the OECD (Schmelzer, 2016(Schmelzer, , 2015, indicators such as GDP, public discourse, and popular culture, thereby shaping shared understandings of success and progress. ...
... Thus, economists can be understood as playing a pivotal role in moulding the broader "thought collective" of business leaders, media pundits, politicians and technocrats who use economic reasoning and metaphors to shape societal priorities and policies related to the economy. The indicators they have developed and the models they use-some of which are broad yet deceptively simple, such as emphasis on the positive impacts of self-interested behaviour in free markets-constrain the realm of the possible (Berman, 2013;Schmelzer, 2016Schmelzer, , 2015. ...
... Admittedly, across disciplines and beyond university campuses, it seems most 20 th -century theorists did not question the view that increased growth and increased mastery over nature would better the human condition. Yet a not-insignificant contingent of sociologists, political scientists, geographers and historians have shown more scepticism that growth into the indefinite future will lead to the social good (Bakker, 2005;Castree, 2010;Clapp and Dauvergne, 2011;Foster, 1999;McNeill, 2001;Mitchell, 2001;Schmelzer, 2015). These disciplinary literatures suggest that while a prevailing comfort with growth and consumption still reigns, there is a greater willingness than in economics to allocate some of their research effort to better understand linkages between the economy and environmental degradation and to query the desirability of prevailing policy propositions. ...
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Mainstream economics theory neglects biophysical foundations and supports certain public policies that are problematic for sustainability. Despite several decades of critique for its lack of attention to environment-economy linkages and planetary boundaries, mainstream theory fails to redress such shortcomings, thereby continuing to give humanity poor guidance for addressing sustainability challenges and thus the discipline can be understood as being "perversely resilient" in not reorganizing to address the challenge of human survival within the constraints of the biosphere. This paper examines competing explanations for this perverse resilience and draws heavily upon Mark Blyth's insightful extensions to Karl Polanyi's theories. The paper considers the implications of these insights in shifting the economics establishment towards a more life-sustaining economic theory.
... zero growth-steady-state growth). Thus, degrowth was born as a reaction to the ruling idea of growth in our societies and its hegemony (D'Alisa et al., 2014;Schmelzer, 2015). It aims to change society from the current one, in which consumption and production patterns are out of control, to another one in which people voluntarily consume fewer resources through new ways of living (D'Alisa et al., 2014). ...
... Thus, the degrowth movement rejects the common practice of commodification and refuses economic indicators, like GDP (Costanza et al., 2014;Schmelzer, 2015;van den Bergh, 2009), as the main guideline for society's decision-making (D'Alisa et al., 2014). Next, it emphasises the importance of simplicity, sharing, conviviality, commons, sufficiency, decision-sharing, and care for others and ecosystems as the new milestones (D'Alisa et al., 2014;Jarvis, 2019). ...
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As a concept challenging the growth paradigm, degrowth is put into practice in different ways. Ones of which are degrowth-oriented cooperatives: organisations composed of producers and consumers that intend to keep a locally oriented focus and embrace more responsible economic practices to promote socio-ecological sustainability. Despite their flourishing relevance, a robust understanding of their functioning is still missing. This becomes essential to comprehend how they differ from normal cooperatives and support their diffusion. Therefore, this work investigates the internal organisational dynamics in a degrowth cooperative through a case study. We used a participatory system dynamics modelling approach involving the cooperative’s members to develop a causal-loop model describing the cooperative’s main functioning. Several dynamics appeared to take place within the cooperative, reinforcing ones favouring cooperative growth and balancing ones limiting its expansion. While growth dynamics and conflict emergence resemble normal cooperatives’ behaviour, limiting mechanisms, depending on the local focus and the potential setting of income sufficiency thresholds, are expected to prevent the cooperative from excessive expansion and lose its degrowth ethos. Moreover, the participatory modelling method used appeared to contribute to improving the members’ understanding of the problems, identifying shared solutions, and enhancing communication. This study's contribution is two-fold: first, it reports the organisational dynamics of a cooperative practising degrowth and, second, highlights how participatory modelling can be a powerful tool in those contexts to increase members’ engagement and enhance communication.
... This is even more evident under the so-called social-democratic pact of Fordism (Dardot & Laval 2017). The prospect of increasing growth rates was key in supporting a historically rather unique period of comparably low inequality, combined with substantial public expenditures for and the corresponding decommodification of education, health, social security, and the like (Piketty 2014). 2 No wonder that the measurement of GDP growth, that was established during WWII as a way of managing the war economy (Schmelzer 2015), became progressively the key indicator for the "health" of a national economy and ultimately the capital goal of political interventions (Brown 2015). Economic growth came thus to be explicitly 3 the decisive factor for the stabilization of post-war societies, by guaranteeing fiscal stability, employment, and the social and political integration of capitalist democracies (Offe 1983). ...
... 5 It is rather surprising in this context that the ecological crisis of the 1970s is often mentioned casually, as one among many factors that brought Fordism to fall. It is well known that the oil 3 Structurally growth has always been linked to capitalistic accumulation -but it is with the formalization of GDP as its official measurement at the level of a national economy that it becomes an explicit political goal (Schmelzer 2015). 4 "The Keynesian welfare state is a victim of its success. ...
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Abstract Possibilities for Degrowth: a radical alternative to the neoliberal restructuring of growth-societies. The neoliberal restructuring of society is presented in the paper as a renewed drive to enable the further expansion of the capitalistic mode of production threatened i.a. by the ecological crisis. Precisely because the warnings of the report to the Club of Rome ‘Limits to Growth’ sanctioning the end of the post-war dynamic stability rooted in economic growth and represented by Atlantic Fordism. was taken very seriously by the economic elite, forces joined towards a radical restructuring of societies in order to unleash new possibilities for growth and profit accumulation. Neoliberal governmentality paradoxically embraces the challenge launched by Ecological Economists to focus on life as a productive and creative process and matures as a new mode of governing life that operate with and not against life’s power. Against the neoliberal stealth revolution, degrowth embodies a radical alternative project, both with respect to the substantial goals and to the mode of operation of neoliberal governmentality. In its heterogeneity, degrowth opens spaces for radical imaginaries, practices, and experiences that challenge the neoliberal, pervasive logic of growth and self-optimization, while experimenting possibilities for alternative subjectivities and new modes of being.
... The actual core of the OEEC/OECD was formed by 13 (vertical) technical and several (horizontal) economic committees, in which the transition of the post-World War II transition was coordinated through the entanglement of sociotechnical systems. Vertical committees were formed to govern energy and material flows through modernizing the necessary infrastructure of mobility, transport, extraction, and industrial production (Leimgruber and Schmelzer, 2017: 31;Schmelzer, 2015). Within these committees, technicians, civil servants, national administrations, and industrialists, entangled differing sociotechnical systems to accelerate the flow of raw materials, energy carriers, capital and knowledge (Schmelzer, 2016: 59;Biebuyck, 2019: 20). ...
... Soon after the product pipeline between Marseille and Geneva (SPMR) was put into operation in 1968, Switzerland became, after West Germany, the most important export destination of French oil products. In this technological interlocking of refinery and pipelines, the objective of a "hidden integration" of Western European national economies pursued by the ERP and the OEEC policies was put to work (Misa and Schot, 2005;Schmelzer, 2015). Furthermore, the French case demonstrates the outcomes of the system entangling activities of the OEEC, which focused on the co-transition of energy systems and transport infrastructure and were inherently tied to new business networks between the oil elites in Metropolitan France and decolonizing African nations. ...
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The article investigates the roles of the European Recovery Program (ERP) and the Organization for European Economic CoOperation (OEEC) in pushing France towards a pathway of petroleum dependency. The study is based on the energy transition and the Deep Transition frameworks, notably the analysis of specific collective actors. The analysis elaborates on the impact the OEEC Refinery Expansion Program had on (a) quality and quantity of petroleum product supply in France; (b) the French position within global crude oil and petroleum product trade; (c) the technological interrelatedness of the petroleum sector with agriculture, transport, and mobility. We show how different measures were designed to integrate sociotechnical systems, accelerate the transformation of energy systems and put the objective of Western Europe's "hidden inte-gration" to work. The article concludes that complementing transition studies with historical and socio-metabolic perspectives can shed light on the origins of unsustainable pathways during the 20 th century.
... The prospect of increasing growth rates was key in supporting a historically rather unique period of comparably low inequality, combined with substantial public expenditures for and the corresponding decommodification of education, health, social security (Piketty, 2014). 4 Given the essential role of economic growth, its main measurement in terms of GDP, which was established during WWII as a way of managing the war economy (Schmelzer, 2015), became progressively the key indicator for the "health" of a national economy and ultimately the capital goal of political interventions (Brown, 2015). ...
... Structurally growth has always been linked to capitalistic accumulation -but it is with the formalization of GDP as its official measurement at the level of a national economy that it becomes an explicit political goal (Schmelzer, 2015). 4 DRAFT product and thus do not affect the propertied classes; when this is not the case, such measures cannot fulfill the function of containing and mitigating class conflict" (1984,348).The Fordistic pact among social classes and the corresponding stabilization of Western democracies are rooted in the ongoing promise of social mobility, social security for a large majority of people, and a relatively moderate inequality. ...
Chapter
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Abstract Possibilities for Degrowth: a radical alternative to the neoliberal restructuring of growth-societies. The neoliberal restructuring of society is presented in the paper as a renewed drive to enable the further expansion of the capitalistic mode of production threatened i.a. by the ecological crisis. Precisely because the warnings of the report to the Club of Rome ‘Limits to Growth’ sanctioning the end of the post-war dynamic stability rooted in economic growth and represented by Atlantic Fordism. was taken very seriously by the economic elite, forces joined towards a radical restructuring of societies in order to unleash new possibilities for growth and profit accumulation. Neoliberal governmentality paradoxically embraces the challenge launched by Ecological Economists to focus on life as a productive and creative process and matures as a new mode of governing life that operate with and not against life’s power. Against the neoliberal stealth revolution, degrowth embodies a radical alternative project, both with respect to the substantial goals and to the mode of operation of neoliberal governmentality. In its heterogeneity, degrowth opens spaces for radical imaginaries, practices, and experiences that challenge the neoliberal, pervasive logic of growth and self-optimization, while experimenting possibilities for alternative subjectivities and new modes of being. Keywords: Degrowth, Neoliberal Governmentality, Subjectivation, Resistance, Life
... The failure at all levels of government to protect our freshwater environment stems from political expediency and a failure to acknowledge, analyse and address the influence of vested interests. Part of the problem is that government, both local and central, frequently operates in a simplistic economic growth paradigm, and this inevitably clashes with the uncompromising and non-linear reality of biophysical limits to growth (Borsellino and Torre, 1974;Meadows, Randers and Meadows, n.d.;Schmelzer, 2015). These are real and inescapable limits, and they cannot be fiscally ameliorated (Meadows, Randers and Meadows, n.d.;Browning, 2012). ...
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Almost three decades of studying freshwaters in New Zealand has revealed to me that our lowland freshwater ecosystems are in dire straits and that there is no hint of improvement, or even a slowing of degradation. The leading cause of their demise is land-use change, specifically the rampant and extreme intensification of farming. The response of government, both central and local, has been an abject failure to limit this intensification and its resultant harm. Key to these regulatory failures by authorities charged with protecting freshwaters has been the influence at all levels of powerful agricultural industry lobby groups.
... Following Kuhn's conception, paradigm shift has been widely used in many disciplines. Herman Daly first introduced the term 'growth paradigm' to denote mainstream economists' preference for growth, and he called for a paradigm shift to preference for zero growth (Daly 1972;Schmelzer 2015). In economics, paradigm shift is still mainly used in Daly's tradition. ...
Article
China’s economy has grown at an average annual rate of around 9.5% in the past four decades, which is often hailed as the China Miracle. This paper proposes a new theoretical model to analyse the causes of China’s phenomenal growth in a technological and socio-political framework. In our new framework, the contemporary technology (T) determines what an economy can achieve; the objective (O) of the society has a fundamental impact on its economic growth; the performance (P) in implementing the social objective largely determines the growth rate of the economy; and the stability (S) of the society determines the sustainability of the economic growth. China’s institutions have played key roles in the TOPS framework to initiate and sustain China’s rapid growth in the past four decades. Socio-political changes caused by economic growth might affect the capacity of these institutions to promote economic growth in future.
... "[S]hared understanding and agreement cannot foster the kind of counter-hegemonic politics we require to challenge neoliberalization" (Purcell 2009, 152). The growth paradigm is deeply seated and entwined with neoliberal and colonial ideologies (Schmelzer 2015). Perhaps then "we cannot afford to be agnostic" (Kallis 2015). ...
Thesis
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The degrowth movement offers an ambitious vision and proposal for a civilisational and ecological transformation alongside a coalition of transition discourses. Degrowth is growing in popularity among other green political economy discourses. However, it is still relatively unknown and politically undesirable compared to green growth. If it is accepted that the success of social movements is contingent, in part, on their discourse, then it becomes imperative that a gap in research on degrowth discourse be filled. This thesis examines why the degrowth movement remains marginal. I apply social movement theorising on framing and collective identity in a critical discourse analysis of intellectual advocates engaged in the debate on economic growth and degrowth. I offer observations in the form of dilemmas and invite proponents of degrowth to reflect on how their rhetoric contributes to the marginality of the movement. Degrowth proponents use negative frames and deviant language in an attempt to resist co-option and overcome the hegemonic growth paradigm. Paradoxically, some actors also reinforce master frames in an attempt to make persuasive arguments. This can be incongruent with the movement’s aims of decentering the logic of growth in their debates and for building alliances. I illustrate how movement intellectuals draw from the social languages of activists and scientists. When mixing the two cultures, they engage in tightrope talk and wield a double-edged sword. In a creative struggle, they use standard language in novel ways, counter–frame and reorient an understanding of the debate about economic growth, society and the environment. Doing so galvanises the degrowth movement and affirms their collective identity but simultaneously can agitate actual or potential allies from affiliated movements. I discuss how intellectual advocates might attract support and populate the margins of green political economy discourse if they see that they are also literary thinkers, coalition builders and creators of new stories, that support the degrowth proposal. They too have a role in empowering new narratives in support of heterogeneous transition pathways towards a post-growth future.
... Yet since the integration or exclusion of subaltern groups in the core countries worked without major frictions, regimes and discourses of growth were vital for Western liberal-social democracies. Studies from Alain Schnaiberg's (1980) analysis of 'growth coalitions' to genealogies of the growth discourse (Schmelzer, 2015) and recent critiques of growth-based capitalism (Malm, 2016) all document this entanglement. ...
... It's a global emergency. Schmelzer (2015) argues that the cause of overshoot is economic growth and "increasing levels of material production run up to the ecological limits of a finite planet." Scientists also agree that never-ending economic growth on a finite planet is "non-viable" (Green et al. 2018). ...
... 138 Galbraith observed that modern economies were trapped in this squirrel 139 wheel, and it is 'only by an act of will we can hope to escape' (Galbraith,140 1958/1999, 101). More than half a century later, that act of will has not been 141 summoned and the assumption of an overriding need for continuous growth in 142 production remains core macroeconomic policy in developed nations (Jackson,143 2011; Kallis et al., 2018;Raworth, 2017;Schmelzer, 2015). 144 Galbraith's Dependence Effect or squirrel wheel is a major component of 145 SMT. ...
Preprint
Many jurisdictions around the world have laws promoting sustainable development. Yet these measures have not stopped the depletion of natural capital and global life-support systems, fuelling arguments for degrowth and a transition to a steady-state economy. Crucially, there has been little effort to use existing planning legislation to implement such macro-economic sufficiency-oriented policies. To fill this gap, we offer the novel approach of using scarcity multiplier theory (SMT) to make existing planning laws produce sustainable development. We demonstrate this approach by applying SMT to the Australian island state of Tasmania to show that new commercial development cannot be the ‘sustainable development’ required by that State’s planning laws. We also use SMT to demonstrate three deficiencies of those laws: They only address the sustainability of supply, while neglecting the potential of want to destroy that sustainability; they do not fully state what must be sustained; and they ignore the unsustainability of development proposals that do not directly impact natural and physical capital. This case study illustrates how SMT may be applied in jurisdictions with circumstances similar to those of Tasmania to: (1) apply their own laws to reject environmentally damaging developments; (2) broaden those laws to make all development sustainable; and (3) reform their institutions of government so that all development is subject to rational democratic choice. These three applications indicate the extent to which we need to reform our governance processes to produce sustainability, even in democratic jurisdictions with laws that require developments to be sustainable. Keywords Political ecology, Galbraith, Dependence Effect, government failure, economic geography, planning, de-growth, Steady state economy.
... In any case, such approach must be accompanied by strict limits to aggregate energy use and material stocks to avoid the rebound effect (e.g., Jevons paradox) that has prevented previous e ciency gains to translate into lower environmental pressure. Another approach would be to directly reduce working time and per capita consumption of good and services, which could be welfare-enhancing in high-powered societies (Pullinger, 2014) but would require a profound paradigm shift (Brand-Correa & Steinberger, 2017;Daly, 2014;Kuhn, 1962;Schmelzer, 2015;Vanhulst & Beling, 2014). Perhaps such shift, characterized by a voluntary reduction of overconsumption and the goal of a simpler life, is more critical than the energy transition for Humankind´s sustainability (Wiedman et. ...
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Efforts to accommodate the growth in global energy consumption within a fragile biosphere are primarily focused on managing the transition towards a low-carbon energy mix. We show evidence that a more fundamental problem exists through a scaling relation, akin to Kleiber’s Law, between society’s energy consumption and material stocks. Humanity’s energy consumption scales at 0.78 of its material stocks, which implies predictable environmental pressure regardless of the energy mix. If true, future global energy scenarios imply vast amounts of materials and corresponding environmental degradation, which have not been adequately acknowledged. Thus, limits to energy consumption are needed regardless of the energy mix to stabilize human intervention in the biosphere.
... The first incumbent paradigm of 'materialistic culture and growth' describes the basic assumption that more goods and consumption at the individual level would lead to greater happiness (Becker, 2012;Göpel, 2016), and that economic growth at the level of societies would raise social welfare (Jackson, 2011;Schmelzer, 2015). This paradigm is a major cause for the massive global degradation of nature and the loss of critical Earth system functions, as it does not account for ecological thresholds (Brand and Wissen, 2011;Common and Stagl, 2005; see Daly, 1992;Garver, 2019;Jackson, 2011). ...
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This cumulative dissertation (status: submitted) analyzes the transformative potential of Commons approaches in plant breeding, seed production or conservation (so-called Seed Commons) as alternative Governance approaches to tendencies of privatization and enclosure in the seed sector and the wider agri-food system. For this purpose, on the basis of a literature review, first a conceptualization of a social-ecological transformation (SET) is developed that allows to assess the contribution of small initiatives to a wider transformation. The proposed conceptual SET framework also contributes to connecting the strengths of diverse transformation literatures. In a comprehensive transdisciplinary process, a concept for 'Seed Commons' is developed that highlights shared characteristics of diverse Seed Commons initiatives. Seed Commons can be characterized by four criteria: by recognizing a collective responsibility for the conservation and further development of cultivated plants and genetic diversity, by protecting seeds and varieties from legal or (bio-)technological enclosure, through collective, polycentric management and by sharing formal and practical knowledge within and/or beyond the initiative. These criteria are suitable for a stringent analysis of the shared challenges and opportunities of Seed Commons initiatives. In the next step, I apply these Seed Commons criteria in a systematic document analysis to examine how the complexity of the multi-level governance regime around seeds, biodiversity and intellectual property rights impacts Seed Commons initiatives in Germany and the Philippines. The results show that especially the patent and variety protection regime as well as strict requirements for marketing of seeds can threaten central practices such as the sharing of seeds or their on-field adaptation and further development. Yet the impact of norms such as the conservation of biodiversity and farmers' rights of the biodiversity convention and the international Seed Treaty also contribute to exceptions that widen the scope of action of Seed Commons. Finally, this thesis highlights the very creative, differentiated and conscious ways in which Seed Commons initiatives deal with these incumbent institutional frame conditions, i.e. by resisting them or using gray areas. Through their alternative, everyday practices, they contribute to institutional and political change. Hence Seed Commons initiatives challenge dominant structures by disputing incumbent practices, rules and norms and creating a real and viable alternative on the ground. Overall this thesis shows, taking the example of Seed Commons initiatives, that even small initiatives can contribute to a social-ecological transformation, when they confront incumbent structures, institutions and paradigms, and create just and resilient alternatives. If you are interested in reading the introductory chapter to my cumulative dissertation, feel free to get in touch! (problem statement, main results and contributions, discussion of transdisciplinary methodology, future research avenues etc.) Three of the four papers of the cumulative thesis have (so far) been published, all open access. See below (also on my RG profile): - Tschersich, J. (2021). Norm conflicts as governance challenges for Seed Commons: Comparing cases from Germany and the Philippines. Earth System Governance, 7, 100097. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esg.2021.100097 - Sievers-Glotzbach, S., Tschersich, J., Gmeiner, N., Kliem, L., & Ficiciyan, A. (2020). Diverse Seeds – Shared Practices: Conceptualizing Seed Commons. International Journal of the Commons, 14(1), 418–438. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/ijc.1043 - Sievers-Glotzbach, S. and J. Tschersich (2019): Overcoming the process-structure divide in conceptions of social-ecological transformation: Assessing the transformative character and impact of change processes. Ecological Economics 164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2019.106361
... Two of the main drivers of both poverty reduction and emission levels have been identified as economic growth and inequality, both of which are central policy issues (Freistein and Mahlert 2016;Schmelzer 2015). Overall, empirical evidence shows that, over the past two centuries, economic development has resulted in a sharp decrease in absolute poverty worldwide. ...
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Is it possible for countries to eradicate poverty while also meeting environmental goals? Despite the passage of international agreements calling for these issues to be addressed simultaneously, little is known about the direct relationship between them. This study addresses this gap by proposing a new and composite indicator that integrates measures for both poverty and environmental outcomes (carbon emissions) into a single variable, the carbon intensity of poverty reduction (CIPR). This variable defines the trade-off between the proportional changes of emissions per capita and of the share of the population above the poverty line. In parallel an analytic framework is developed to formulate propositions concerning the possible effects of growth and inequality on the CIPR. The propositions are tested empirically using data from 135 countries across a 30-year time period (1981–2012). The findings confirm that the carbon intensity of poverty reduction is heterogeneous across countries. This heterogeneity is partly explained by economic growth, which is found to have a negative effect on the CIPR up to a certain income level, defined here as a “turning point”. Above that turning point, economic growth increases the CIPR. By contrast, inequality reduction is shown to have a significant negative effect on the CIPR. This study contributes to the literature on sustainable development by analytically and quantitatively linking its three dimensions (social, economic and environmental) and by employing a composite indicator that directly measures the trade-off between poverty reduction and emission levels across countries.
... Im Gegensatz dazu konnten die neuen Messgrößen wie das BIP, die auf "die Geschwindigkeit und Häufigkeit, mit der Papiergeld den Besitzer wechselte" abzielten, scheinbar grenzenlos expandieren, ohne von physischer oder territorialer Endlichkeit begrenzt zu sein (Mitchell 2011(Mitchell : 139, 1998. Der Aufstieg des modernen Wachstumsparadigmas in den Nachkriegsjahrzehnten war aufs engste mit der billigen und scheinbar unendlichen Verfügbarkeit von Energie verwoben (Dale 2012;Johnson 2014;Schmelzer 2015;Smil 2020) -diese stellte die ökonomisch und gesellschaftlich nur wenig mitreflektierte Basis des "1950er Syndroms" (Pfister 1995) dar, des schnellen Anstiegs von Wohlstand bei gleichzeitiger starker Beschleunigung von Umweltverbrauch (Steffen et al. 2015). Allerdings erodierten laut Mitchell die demokratisierenden Wirkungen des Energieträgers Kohle mit dem von Großbritannien und den USA strategisch geförderten Aufstieg von Öl und Gas während des gleichen Zeitraums. ...
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Es besteht weitgehend Einigkeit darüber, dass eine Transformation hin zu einer post-fossilen Wirtschaft auf Grundlage erneuerbarer und bio-basierter Energien und Ressourcen unvermeidlich ist, und dass dies grundlegende strukturelle Veränderungen in modernen Gesellschaften verlangt. Diese Veränderungen werden jedoch bislang vor allem als technologische Innovationen und Umgestaltungen von Produktionsprozessen und Infrastrukturen verstanden. Weitaus weniger beachtet werden dagegen die Fragen, wie sich post-fossile Transformationen auf die gegenwärtig verbreiteten Lebensweisen bzw. typischen Muster von Alltagspraktiken sowie auf die Mentalitäten bzw. Wahrnehmungs-, Bewertungs- und Handlungsgewohnheiten der in diesen Gesellschaften lebenden Menschen auswirken (müssen), die ihrerseits nicht minder von 200 Jahren Fossilismus geprägt sind. Dieses Working Paper stellt unseren Ansatz einer relationalen sozial-ökologischen Mentalitätsforschung vor, den wir als notwendige Ergänzung zur bestehenden Forschung über postfossile Transformationsprozesse vorschlagen, um diese beiden Dimensionen systematisch in den Blick zu nehmen. Es erörtert zunächst den Mentalitätsbegriff als konzeptionellen Ausgangspunkt, skizziert seine Ursprünge in der Tradition der deutschen Soziologie und gibt ihm eine solidere theoretische Grundlage, indem es ihn in Pierre Bourdieus Theorie der Praxis mit ihrem Habituskonzept verankert. In Auseinandersetzung mit unterschiedlichen Debattensträngen der sozial-ökologischen Forschung (u.a. zu gesellschaftlichen Naturverhältnissen, den materiellen, institutionellen und mentalen Infrastrukturen fossiler Wachstumsgesellschaften und den Dynamiken von Externalisierung und Ungleichheit, die den entsprechenden Lebensweisen zugrunde liegen) schlagen wir eine Reihe von Erweiterungen vor, durch die sich die relationale Praxistheorie für sozial-ökologische Fragen sensibilisieren lässt. Hiervon ausgehend schlagen wir ein „sozial-ökologisches Update“ von Bourdieus Praxistheorie vor, das sie mit dem Konzept der „sozialen Naturbeziehungen“ und der Konstruktion eines „Raums der sozialen Naturbeziehungen“ in Analogie und Ergänzung zum Raum der sozialen (Klassen-)Beziehungen an diese Debatten anschließt.
... In terms of research, it is important to understand how the idea of growth reproduces its hegemony and adapts to crises and challenges. We need more studies like that of Schmelzer (2015) for the OECD investigating with concrete case studies how the idea of growth became hegemonic. This could extend beyond state or inter-state institutions and look at the interplay with the building of hegemony within civil society and its institutions in different geographical contexts. ...
Article
This paper addresses a gap in degrowth scholarship: the lack of a theory of the state. Those who write about degrowth advocate radical policy and social change, but have no model to explain how, why and under what conditions such change could come about and what role the state would play in it. This is because they have no theory of what the state is, or when and why it changes. We review for the first time the Anglophone and Francophone literatures on state and degrowth and find both wanting. We propose a Gramscian theory of the state suitable for thinking about degrowth and show with the example of strategizing for a maximum income policy how this suits the degrowth literature’s emphasis on a combination of grassroots and institutional actions.
... Limiting per capita power allows for a worldwide acceptable standard of living but requires unprecedented degrowth in more than half of all countries. Although technically feasible, achieving this poses a seemingly impossible political challenge given the prevailing growth paradigm (44,45). Yet the extended Kleiber´s Law shows that keeping global power growth unchecked is technically unfeasible regardless of the energy mix given the intimate relation between energy use and material rearrangements. ...
Preprint
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Efforts to accommodate the growth in global energy consumption within a fragile biosphere are primarily focused on managing the transition towards a low-carbon energy mix. We show evidence that a more fundamental problem exists through a scaling relation, akin to Kleiber’s Law, between society’s energy consumption and material stocks. Humanity’s energy consumption scales at 0.78 of its material stocks, which implies predictable environmental pressure regardless of the energy mix. If true, future global energy scenarios imply vast amounts of materials and corresponding environmental degradation, which have not been previously acknowledged. Given this reality, we also show evidence that a worldwide lifestyle limit at 2.0 kW/capita enables a dignified life for all while stabilizing human intervention in the biosphere to current levels, yet the political viability of establishing such limit is very low.
... Wachstumskritische Begriffe wie Postwachstum, Degrowth oder Décro-issance werden jedoch in politischen wie akademischen Nischen (z.B. durch das Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie oder das Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik zunehmend diskutiert (u.a. D' Alisa et al. 2016;KNÖ/ DFG 2017;Schmelzer 2015 In Deutschland wurde der Diskurs insbesondere mit der Enquete-Kommission (2013) "Wachstum, Wohlstand, Lebensqualität" sogar bis in die etablierten Institutionen gebracht und über neue Messungen und Indikatoren von Wohlstand nachgedacht. Weltweit wurden bereits alternative Wohlstands-Indizes erarbeitet, mit denen gesellschaftlicher Fortschritt bzw. ...
Technical Report
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Technologische Entwicklungen und Trends, können signifikant zu Ressourcenschonung beitragen. Wie sie konkret wirken hängt jedoch stets von den gesellschaftlichen Kontextfaktoren ab. Neben politischen Rahmenbedingungen sind hier soziale Routinen, Handlungsmuster und Konsumstile bedeutsam, da sie einen erheblichen Einfluss auf den individuellen und gesamtgesellschaftlichen Ressourcenbedarf besitzen. Die vorliegende Trendanalyse untersucht daher systematisch, wie sich sozio-ökonomische und sozio-kulturelle Trends auf die Inanspruchnahme von Ressourcen auswirken können. Die Ergebnisse dieser Trendanalyse legen nahe, dass es übergreifende und ganzheitliche Ansätze und seitens der Politik einen Policy Mix mit passgenauen Instrumenten zur Erreichung von Ressourcenschonung erfordert.
... Thus, it is reasonable to worry about how environmental policy responds to the communicated beliefs of neoclassical theory, whose discourse has rationalised that self-interest is good (Hausman and McPherson, 2002), that GDP growth is "progress" (Schmelzer, 2015) and that consumption leads to transcendence (Goddard et al., 2019). Unforeseen framing and crowding out effects of monetising nature might have quite the opposite effect to what is hoped for (Neuteleers and Engelen, 2015). ...
Thesis
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This thesis is about whether it is a good idea to place monetary value on nature, to remedy the fact that we treat it as having no particular value to us humans, although it clearly has. The thesis is based on five research papers that can be said to position themselves on opposite sides in the debate on monetisation of nature. The first two papers consider the basis of neoclassical environmental economics and apply the value theory and valuation methods from normative neoclassical welfare theory, on which monetisation of nature is based. The other three papers examine, with increasing degrees of criticism, this theory of value and especially its central assumption that value can be derived from people’s choices, or “revealed preferences”. The thesis itself is a “reflective story” about the journey I made as I learned to think about and understand neoclassical environmental economics in new ways. I reflect upon my work from a philosophy of science perspective, consider how for-granted-taken ideas from neoclassical economics affect environmental economic analysis and its conclusions, and examine the subject of value and valuation from what has become my new theoretical standpoint, ecological economics. It concerns meta-theoretical questions about ontology, that is, ideas in a research discipline about how things really are (what is), and epistemology, ideas about how researchers can provide relevant knowledge about reality. Such ideas are often taken for granted in neoclassical economic analysis and how they affect the analysis and its conclusions is not seldom unreflective. In the thesis, I move from explaining why neoclassical environmental economists advocate monetisation and pricing of nature as important solutions to environmental problems, to exemplifying how this turned out in research projects intended to serve as decision support in practice, and then to exploring and clarifying an alternative theory of value and valuation from ecological economics based on value pluralism and so-called deliberative valuation. In a concluding discussion, I point out that there are reasons to be sceptical about whether monetisation of nature is the right path to follow if we want to change our unsustainable relationship with nature and tackle the serious ecological crises we currently face. I show that monetisation of nature in practice requires a considerable amount of pragmatism, since the applied version of the theory deviates far from its idealised claims about the possibility to capture actual, total values. I also show that the descriptive (so-called positive) part of neoclassical theory and its normative part overlap in a way that makes it very difficult to speak of “objective” science in environmental economics. Instead, and despite strong recognition in the discipline that environmental problems are “market failures”, neoclassical theory has an ethical and ideological bias that favours individuals’ freedom of choice and market solutions, at the expense of collective decision-making and discussions about values that cannot be quantified. The important contribution of the thesis is that it clarifies the consequences of a central idea in the theory behind environmental economic analysis, namely the idea of values as commensurable, that is, measurable in one single unit. This idea links to the misleading conception of choices as “trade-offs”, where all choices are essentially viewed as the result of people’s constant exchange of costs and benefits within themselves in every choice they make, with the result that everything gets better (or at least not worse). Based on my research, I suggest that, in reality, people do not generally “make” trade-offs. If anything, people try to avoid them, especially when it comes to difficult choices, such as those concerning the true value of nature, because such choices involve moral conflicts between values that are incommensurable. As a basis for valuing transformational change, monetisation is therefore unsuitable, as it conceals rather than reveals the ethical dilemmas that are the very definition of sustainability problems and causes us to search for the efficient or so-called “optimal” solutions claimed possible in neoclassical theory and rhetoric, although such solutions do not exist. What we need instead is to represent public opinion in environmental decision-making in ways that do not conceal people’s actual moral considerations. Environmental valuation is political. It must be done together with others through reason-sensitive means, where people’s actual experiences of value conflicts – within us and between us – can be deliberated before making decisions. This makes decision-making more complex, but as an alternative to monetisation, this realism is not necessarily unrealistic. The fact that incommensurability is grounded in human experience means that the complexity of social and environmental decision-making has a real counterpart in conflicts within ourselves. One could see this as a potentiality, because we may have more confidence in people’s ability to recognise the relevance and necessity of less simplification and more complexity in decision-making. People need to “deliberate values” rather than “consuming” them and being expected to express all sorts of values through money.
... The rapid development of urban areas all over the world causes many serious environmental concerns, such as emissions, floods, etc. Fortunately, growing knowledge about the economic growth paradigm [1] and ecological consciousness [2,3] in societies (among consumers, decision-makers, etc.) makes it possible to realize that limited resources are not just about limited capital that governments and institutions have, but it is also-and perhaps mainly-a question of scarcity of resources itself [4]. Therefore, a concept of the ecological perspective gets more and more popular and, for many, balanced development is the only way to get rid of this problem. ...
Article
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Circular economy (CE) is an emerging economic model based on the endless circulation flow of resources creating additional value. In temporary organizations such as construction projects, all administrative decisions are crucial for final success. One of the ideas is to enroll a circular economy manager (CEMR) and put him in an organizational structure. Implementation of the CE concept should be the effort of the entire project team. However, actions specific to the innovative nature of the procedures related to the CE in construction projects require additional support. It can be provided by professionals who can adapt a wide spectrum of knowledge to be used for promoting CE in the execution of construction processes. CEMRs can play the role of patrons of the CE issues because they support project managers in saving material resources in construction projects. The symmetry between visible outcomes of the CE idea and the employment of an extra manager has contributed to the development of the CEMR selection criteria model. However, effective recruitment for such a post may be a bit complicated for decision-makers, especially when CE is still enigmatic, as its procedures are quite undiscovered. All in all, the multi-criteria decision-making problem forces one to prepare the list of selection criteria and to rank them according to status in the hierarchy. This article shows prioritized criteria for selecting the CEMR based on the advanced literature review concluded after several expert-based reviews and calculated after some Monte Carlo simulations. The main purpose of this article is to help decision-makers in construction projects to perform a reliable recruitment process.
... As noted by Muraca and Döring (2018), the sustainability discoure is often articulated under the guise of the 'sustainable development' idea, which naturalizes capitalist social relations and corollaries such as the growth imperative (Longo et al. 2016). In industrialized societies, the ideological hegemony of the growth "fetish" (Schmelzer 2015) sits behind the formation of an uncontested common sense concerning the natural, necessary, and desirable character of economic growth (Kallis 2018). The blue economy discourse taps into the socially established growth paradigm to construct an ocean-based "economentality" (Mitchell 2014), whose central vision is the ocean as the new economic frontier; the source for an imagined economic future or "fictional expectation" (Beckert 2016) in which growth and environmental sustainability can be married (Arbo et al. 2018). ...
Article
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Shipping carries virtually all internationally traded goods. Major commercial ports are fully integrated into transnational production and distribution systems, enabling the circulation of massive flows of energy and materials in the global economy. Port activity and development are usually associated with positive socio-economic effects, such as increased GDP and employment, but the industry’s continuous expansion produces adverse outcomes including air and water pollution, the destruction of marine and coastal environments, waterfront congestion, health risks, and labor issues. In its quest to marry economic growth and environmental sustainability in the maritime industries, proponents of the newly coined blue growth paradigm assume the negative impacts of ports and shipping to be fixable mostly through technological innovation. This paper questions the validity of the premise that the unlimited growth of the port and shipping industries is compatible with environmental sustainability and analyses the feasibility of technological improvements to offset the sector’s associated negative impacts. Based on insights from ecological economics and political ecology, ports can be described as power-laden assemblages of spaces, flows, and actors, which produce unequally distributed socio-ecological benefits and burdens at multiple scales. Focusing on the case of the Port of Barcelona, this study argues that the continuous expansion of port activity increases seldom accounted-for negative socio-environmental impacts, acquiring an uneconomic character for port cities and regions. In contrast, de-growth is presented as a radical sustainability alternative to ocean-based growth paradigms. The paper concludes by discussing its prospective ‘blue’ articulation in the context of maritime transportation while offering some avenues for future research and policymaking.
... Vol 6 April 2022 Viewpoint reason for the pursuit of economic growth, which is argued to improve living standards for all, rather than redistribution, which would improve the lives of people who are poor at the expense of people who are rich. 23 Although the preferred mechanism for achieving the efficient allocation of resources is the free market, many strands of neoclassical economics (eg, New Keynesian economics) accept that some government intervention (eg, in the form of fiscal policy) is necessary at least in the short term to avoid recessions and deflation. A core focus of much of neoclassical economics is growth in gross domestic product (GDP), which equates to increasing consumption. ...
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Despite substantial attention within the fields of public and planetary health on developing an economic system that benefits both people's health and the environment, heterodox economic schools of thought have received little attention within these fields. Ecological economics is a school of thought with particular relevance to public and planetary health. In this article, we discuss implications of key ecological economics ideas for public and planetary health, especially those related to critiques of gross domestic product as a measure of progress and economic growth as the dominant goal for economic and policy decision making. We suggest that ecological economics aligns well with public health goals, including concern for equality and redistribution. Ecological economics offers an opportunity to make the transition to an economic system that is designed to promote human and planetary health from the outset, rather than one where social and environmental externalities must be constantly corrected after the fact. Important ideas from ecological economics include the use of a multidimensional framework to evaluate economic and social performance, the prioritisation of wellbeing and environmental goals in decision making, policy design and evaluation that take complex relationships into account, and the role of provisioning systems (the physical and social systems that link resource use and social outcomes). We discuss possible interventions at the national scale that could promote public health and that align with the prioritisation of social and ecological objectives, including universal basic income or services and sovereign money creation. Overall, we lay the foundations for additional integration of ecological economics principles and pluralist economic thinking into public and planetary health scholarship and practice.
... Since the early twentieth century, the core of prevalent socio-economic and political systems has been economic growth. This has fundamentally and irreversibly reshaped societies and the entire planet (Schmelzer 2017). In the aftermath of World War II, emerging theories and paradigms for developing non-industrialised countries in the Global South were largely based on the premise of economic growth (e.g. ...
Chapter
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This chapter assesses the potential impact of SDG 8 on forests and forest-dependent people. The conceptual framework puts decent work and economic growth in the context of predominant development theories and paradigms (modernisation, growth, basic needs, sustainable development) shaping the agendas of governments, the private sector, civil society and investors. These stakeholders pursue different goals and interests, with uneven prioritisation of SDG 8 targets and mixed impacts on forests and livelihoods. At the country level, significant trade-offs are expected where growth policies and strategies focus on sectors competing with forestry for space and resources, such as agriculture, energy and mining. In these cases, decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation will be a major challenge. Combined, such policies and strategies lead to global trade-offs by exacerbating climate change. Synergies between SDG 8 and forests exist where growth is explicitly sought in the forest sector, focusing on tree plantations, timber and NTFPs from natural forests, eco-tourism and environmental services. Enhanced enabling environments help minimise trade-offs and maximise synergies by reconciling government policies and private sustainability standards, formalising community stewardship of tropical forests, addressing informality in forest product value chains and providing incentives for youth to become involved in forest-based economic activities.
... Matthias Schmelzer holds a similar view. According to him, the growth paradigm could be justified until the mid-twentieth century, but nowadays, in a situation of depletion of natural resources and dynamic changes, it is not desirable, and may even be catastrophic [11] (p. 270). ...
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The research problem was formulated as a question: are demand-supply shocks affecting the opening up of a negative or positive output gap? The hypothesis was formulated: demand-supply shocks have a significant impact on the opening up and deepening of the negative output gap, thereby causing real GDP to shrink or potential GDP to grow. The spatial range applies to Poland and the time period - 2008:Q1-2019:Q4. The methodology consists of three stages: the first is the decomposition of the time series using the TRAMO/SEATS on the components: seasonality, trend-cycle, irregular; the second - the decomposition of the trend-cycle component using the Hodrick-Prescott filter into two separate components; the third is the calculation of the output gap; forecast with VECM and IRF approximation. The ouput gap is in the range of - 11% to +10%. After cleaning it, the shock elements are between -2.2% and 2%. Demand-supply shocks open up and widen the negative output gap. Based on forecasts, the output gap will be positive by the end of 2022, close to 0% (optimal scenario), rising to 5% (optimistic scenario) and negative, deepening to -4% (pessimistic scenario). Two of these scenarios point to a growing risk of secular stagnation.
... In any case, future efficiency improvements must be accompanied by strict limits to aggregate energy use and corresponding material stocks to avoid the rebound effect (e.g., Jevons paradox) that has prevented previous efficiency gains to translate into lower environmental pressure. Another approach would be to directly reduce working time and per capita consumption of good and services, which could be welfareenhancing in high-powered societies (Pullinger, 2014) but would require a profound paradigm shift (Brand-Correa and Steinberger, 2017;Daly, 2014;Kuhn, 1962;Schmelzer, 2015;Vanhulst and Beling, 2014). Perhaps the goal of a simpler yet wholesome life is more critical than the energy transition for Humankind's sustainability. ...
Article
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Efforts to accommodate the growth in global energy consumption within a fragile biosphere are primarily focused on managing the transition towards a low-carbon energy mix. We show evidence that a more fundamental problem exists through a scaling relation, akin to Kleiber’s Law, between society’s energy consumption and material stocks. Humanity’s energy consumption scales at 0.78 of its material stocks, which implies predictable environmental pressure regardless of the energy mix. If true, future global energy scenarios imply vast amounts of materials and corresponding environmental degradation, which have not been adequately acknowledged. Thus, limits to energy consumption are needed regardless of the energy mix to stabilize human intervention in the biosphere.
... Finally, leverage points relating to values or paradigms, which have the most influence on the whole system, are also the most difficult to use (see Table 4). For example, a system having growth as its paradigm (Schmelzer 2015, Harangozo, Csutora et al. 2018) will resist competing forces that aim to change this focus (e.g., growth versus de-growth). ...
Thesis
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Increasing market concentration has caused the rise of market power issues. Particularly in the agri-food sector, increased concentration and thus market power can be observed. Due to the hourglass shape of the value chain within the agri-food system, markets tend to be concentrated on retail as well as on farm- input (seeds, fertilizers, etc.) level. At these levels market power concerns arise, whereat negative effects might play out most on farm level, as it is the level flanked by market concentration. Without a doubt, sustainability is a main challenge of the 21st century. Sustainability entails the notion to maintain the ability to meet people’s needs in the present and in the future. This ability is put at risk as human resource extraction, use and waste production overshoot planetary boundaries. Many initiatives try to support sustainability and a sustainability transition. Among those incentives are endeavours that try to find the cause and the solution to sustainability problems in the market sphere. Market failures, most prominently externalities and missing markets, have been identified to be a cause and potential cure for sustainability problems. Given the rising relevance of market power issues, the question arises whether market power can be identified as cause and cure for the lack of sustainability too. This thesis aims at answering this question. This study investigates in-depth the characteristics of the potential relationship between market power and sustainability. To investigate the characteristics of this relationship, the following questions have been posed: Do both phenomena influence each other mutually (Chapter 1 and 2)? Is the relationship positive or negative for sustainability (Chapter 2, 3 and 7)? What does the characteristic of the relationship imply (Chapter 4 and 7)? Seven chapters are dedicated to answering these questions. That a relationship between market power and sustainability does indeed exist is briefly outlined in Chapter 1. A more thorough analysis of whether market power and sustainability are related is presented in Chapter 2 with a literature review to gain insights of whether the connection between market power and sustainability has already been studied. Supplementary to the literature review a network analysis is conducted providing an overview over the existing literature and outlining common themes within this body of literature. Results from Chapter 1 and 2 show that market power and sustainability are connected. However, understanding the connection to its full extent requires market power to be understood in all its complexity. Accordingly, both phenomena, market power and sustainability, need to be analyzed separately to provide a better understanding. Chapter 3 dissects the market power phenomenon, which then allows to unravel the aspects as well as the dynamics of power. The dissection of market power follows the work of Foucault, whereas other literature on power is integrated into the cornerstones developed by Foucault. Moreover, the classification of power developed by Foucault is amended to include the notion of a paradigm. This idea is lent from systems thinking and allows to add a superstructure to the structural considerations of power. Further, by using a systems thinking approach the dynamics of the power struggle can be depicted allowing to understand phenomena such as Green Washing. While Chapter 3 focuses on market power, Chapter 4 takes a closer look at sustainability. Specifically, the notion of decoupling within the context of the Green Revolution is studied. This chapter provides a crucial contribution to identify sustainability narratives that are assimilated by the current predominant paradigm; economic growth. Hence, it explains why weak sustainability will never create sustainability as it is in itself based on a system which is unsustainable. Thus, it explains why the notion of weak sustainability is an oxymoron. Chapters 3 and 4 deliver answers to the sub- questions regarding the understanding of the characteristics of the relationship between market power and sustainability. While Chapter 2 illustrates that the relationship is positive, Chapter 3 and 4 highlight that whether a positive or a negative relationship is identified depends on the normative stance one takes. Chapter 5 and 6 provide case studies that exemplify how the gained insights about market power and sustainability can be used for the analysis of market power issues in the agri-food sector. Systems thinking is employed in Chapter 5 to analyze market power within the Belgian sugar beet sector. A causal loop diagram is developed to unravel the dynamics that cause market power issues within this specific case. Chapter 6 comprises of a comparative case study. The Belgian sugar beet value chain is confronted with the German rapeseed value chain. The aim of this chapter is to study potential strategies of farmers to increase or maintain farm income. In both case studies power imbalances are an issue. Finally, Chapter 7 concludes the thesis by providing an overview on how the research questions are answered and expands on the value of developed schemes and approaches. Chapter 7 recapitulates that Chapter 1 and 2 illustrate that a relationship between market power and sustainability does exist. Chapter 2 does further expand on how the two phenomena are connected, by identifying aspects of market power related to sustainability issues. Moreover, Chapter 2 does also show that the relationship between market power and sustainability is mutual, by discussing examples of the reviewed literature. The elaborations on power in Chapter 3 are needed to answer whether the relationship between market power and sustainability is positive or negative. Power as such is neither positive nor negative, but it depends on what it is used for. The same applies to the relationship between market power and sustainability. Market power can be used to support sustainability, but it does not have to. Another valuable result from Chapter 3, which relates to the implications of the characteristics of the relationship between the two phenomena, is that whether market power has a positive or negative effect depends on the overarching goal of our socio-economic system. This also applies to the effect of sustainability on market power. Chapter 4 illustrates how the understanding of sustainability itself is adapted to fit within the goals of our socio-economic system, striving for growth. It could be understood that sustainability is positive for market power, as it provides a potent business model that provides above average profits. Nevertheless, the question remains whether this is positive or not. Is market power something to be aspired or not? While this may seem to be a strange question, one may also keep in mind that market power can support a sustainability transition. However, these are normative questions that call for further discussion. It needs to be decided whether market power is an acceptable tool to support sustainability. It needs to be discussed what kind of sustainability should be supported. Chapter 4 makes clear that in order to achieve a sustainable state, weak sustainability has to be abandoned. The implications for market power are then discussed in Chapter 7. In short, this thesis shows that market power and sustainability are connected. Due to the complexity of both phenomena as well as due to the complexity of our socio-economic system there are, however, no straightforward answers to the posed research questions. A main point to be highlighted is to understand market power in all its complexity and not limiting it to the market sphere. This allows to understand the connection between market power and sustainability as a struggle of paradigms; namely the growth and the sustainability paradigm. Further research particularly in relation with transition theory is suggested. Other future research avenues could focus specifically on the social dimension of sustainability and market power, as well as on the relationship among market power, sustainability and resilience.
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This paper speculates as to the material consequences of the ecological crisis for the current objectives of the education system in the State of Victoria. Drawing upon new materialist thought, it presents a post-qualitative inquiry into the lead author’s experiences as an educator during a 2014 fire event in the Latrobe Valley region of Gippsland, Victoria, Australia, known as the Hazelwood Coal Mine Fire. By engaging in thinking without method it unfolds an argument that a political preference for certain theories has resulted in economic growth becoming a key objective of Victoria’s education system. It explores alternative theoretical perspectives, including the theory that there are limits to growth. This theoretical shift implies that any meaningful response to the ecological crisis will require a transition to a post-growth society. The paper considers the implication of this alternative theory for the current objectives of the education system in the State of Victoria. In so doing, it considers what it might mean if we accepted our response-ability to educate for a post-growth society rather than for a society surrounded by smoke and ash.
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This article engages with the issue of income convergence between North and South by using the autocatalytic hypothesis of growth and development. Two system models describe positive and negative feedback loops which govern economic flows between North and South. The analysis of endogenous and exogenous negative feedbacks points to the process that would slowly push the world economy towards vanishing growth rates and, eventually, halt its material growth. The present work rejects convergence in per capita GDP between North and South from the theoretical perspective. Such an outcome would stand against one of the fundamental properties of autocatalytic dynamics—centripetality— that has its causal roots in the competitive process and capitalist institutions. In that sense, the autocatalytic hypothesis provides a theoretical explanation for those empirical analyses that dismisses convergence.
Article
Ecological economics has ontological foundations that inform it as a paradigm both biophysically and socially. It stands in strong opposition to mainstream thought on the operations of the economy and society. The core arguments deconstruct and oppose both growth and price-making market paradigms. However, in contradiction of these theoretical foundations, ecological economists can be found who call upon neoclassical economic theory as insightful, price-making and capitalist markets as socially justified means of allocation and economic growth as achieving progress and development. The more radical steady-state and post-growth/degrowth movements are shown to include confused and conflicted stances in relation to the mainstream hegemonic paradigms. Ecological economics personally challenges those trained in mainstream theory to move beyond their orthodox education and leave behind the flawed theories and concepts that contribute to supporting systems that create social, ecological and economic crises. This paper makes explicit the paradigmatic struggle of the past thirty years and the need to wipe away mainstream apologetics, pragmatic conformity and ill-conceived postmodern pluralism. It details the core paradigmatic conflict and specifies the alternative social ecological economic paradigm along with a new research agenda.
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Cambridge Core - Environmental Policy, Economics and Law - Global Green Politics - by Peter Newell
Economic growth remains a prominent political goal, despite its conflicts with ecological sustainability. Are growth policies only a question of political or individual will, or do ‘growth imperatives’ make them inescapable? We structure the debate along two dimensions: (a) degree of coerciveness between free will and coercion, and (b) agents affected. With carefully derived micro level definitions of ‘social coercion’ and ‘growth imperative’, we discuss several mechanisms suspected to make growth necessary for firms, households, and nation states. We identify technological innovations as a systematic necessity to net invest, trapping firms and households in a positive feedback loop to increase efficiency. Resource-intensive technology is economically attractive because of a subtle violation of the meritocratic principle of justice. The resulting dilemma between ‘technological unemployment’ and the social necessity of high employment explains why states ‘must’ foster economic growth. Politically, we suggest to institutionally limit resource consumption and redistribute economic rents.
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As long as economic growth is a major political goal, decoupling growth from resource use and emissions is a prerequisite for a sustainable net-zero emissions future. However, empirical evidence for absolute decoupling, i.e., decreasing resource use and emissions at the required scale despite continued economic growth, is scarce and scattered across different research streams. In this two-part systematic review, we assess how and to what extent decoupling has been observed and what can be learnt for addressing the sustainability and climate crisis. Based on a transparent approach, we systematically identify and screen more than 11,500 scientific papers, eventually analyzing full texts of 835 empirical studies on the relationship between economic growth (GDP), resource use (materials and energy) and greenhouse gas emissions. Part I of the review examines how decoupling has been investigated across three research streams: energy, materials and energy, and emissions. Part II synthesizes the empirical evidence and policy implications (Haberl et al. part II, in review). In part I, we examine the topical, temporal and geographical scopes, methods of analysis, institutional networks and prevalent conceptual angles. We find that in this rapidly growing literature, the vast majority of studies – decomposition, ‘causality’ and Environmental Kuznets Curve analysis – approach the topic from a statistical-econometric point of view, while hardly acknowledging thermodynamic principles on the role of energy and materials for socio-economic activities. A potentially fundamental incompatibility between economic growth and systemic societal changes to address the climate crisis is rarely considered. We conclude that the existing wealth of empirical evidence merits braver conceptual advances than we have seen thus far. Future work should focus on comprehensive multi-indicator long-term analyses, conceptually grounded on the fundamental biophysical basis of socio-economic activities, incorporating the role of global supply chains as well as the wider societal role and preconditions of economic growth.
Chapter
With respect to sustainable development, two currently applicable paradigms need to be challenged. The first one is about how to model the complex world we live in. The Cartesian-Newtonian way of thinking (after René Descartes and Isaac Newton) is still dominant. Cartesian-Newtonian thinking, also known as analytical thinking, is based on the premise that a complex problem can be reduced to a set of separate smaller problems. By understanding this set of smaller problems, we can understand the complex problem.
Article
The rise of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as a global actor has been attributed to its capacity to create and redefine the boundaries of knowledge through powerful discursive concepts, such as the idea of a knowledge economy. The organisation’s reviews, forecasts and statistics have been perceived as producing multifarious effects within and beyond its member countries while shaping the perceptions of policy alternatives or lack thereof. The shared views and arrangements of knowledge creation within the organisation, from which the organisation produces its artefacts, have nevertheless received minor attention. This article approaches the OECD and its agenda for higher education from the perspective of organisational cultures and knowledge creation within organisations. The article investigates the changes that have taken place in the OECD and its higher education agenda. Moreover, it examines whether any dominant narratives on higher education emerge from the interview data and the OECD reports, and if so, what their differing or opposing narratives are. Lastly, the article aims to understand the dynamics of the changes by analysing whether an epistemic culture exists within the OECD, and if so, what kind of culture it is.
Article
Purpose By taking a micro-level perspective, this paper aims to examine the influence of the ongoing paradigm shift from technological to social innovation on principal investigators (PIs) and thereby links the two emerging research fields of entrepreneurial ecosystems and social innovation. The purpose of this paper is to build the basis for future empirical analyses. Design/methodology/approach The paper is a conceptual paper and therefore focuses on theoretical considerations. Taking a quadruple helix approach, PIs are outlined as central actors of entrepreneurial ecosystems and transformative agents of the innovation process. Findings PIs can proactively shape the innovation process and thus the shift from technological to social innovation, through various channels. They can affect all other actors of the quadruple helix, e.g. by exerting influence on the process of scientific change, on the public opinion and/or on the industry partners. Further, the paradigm shift might change the universities' role in the quadruple helix, substantiating their importance in the process of social change. Practical implications As PIs are influencing all other actors of the quadruple helix, they are central actors of entrepreneurial ecosystems and thus crucial players in the innovation process. Hence, they need to be supported in fulfilling their role of transformative agents, accelerating and shaping the paradigm shift from technological to social innovation. Universities should therefore reconsider their missions and vision as well as their role within the society. Originality/value This paper considers the influence of an ongoing paradigm shift from technological to social innovation on entrepreneurial ecosystems. This work focuses especially on the PIs' role as transformative agents. Therefore, it builds a bridge from entrepreneurial ecosystems to social innovation and thus contributes to both research fields. Moreover, the paper shows the great potential of PIs to influence and shape social innovation.
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This article aims to provide an analysis of the reconfiguration of political orientations in the face of weakening economic growth. We address a widely observed new polarization in the party systems of Western democracies, with radically universalist and ecological orientations, often represented by green parties, versus industrialist and authoritarian values, mainly represented by right-wing populism. In our effort to explain this constellation, we offer an alternative to accounts that merely focus on an underlying change of class structures or that, conversely, declare socio-economic factors obsolete in their relevance for voting behaviour. While the one side focuses on the ‘losers of modernization’ or deindustrialization, the other side emphasizes a cultural conflict between new cosmopolitan values and a defence of male, white, heterosexual, non-migrant privileges. In contrast to such accounts, we analyse how the general trend towards decelerated economic growth provoked new orientations on the (liberal) left and on the (populist) right. In a first step, we provide an overview of diagnoses of ‘secular stagnation’ and of the rise of radically universalist and right-wing parties in Western Europe, focusing in particular on the last decade and looking to the US by way of comparison. We then focus on the attitudes which the political actors in question entertain towards economic growth and offer an interpretation of their ‘cultural’ motives as struggles over economic distribution. The third and last step presents a Gramscian extension of socio-economic analysis beyond the study of voter groups and their attitudes. Here, we take into account the interests of the ruling classes along with the quest for legitimacy and projected changes in the regime of accumulation—if indeed the term accumulation is still adequate in a post-growth context.
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Η υπεύθυνη κατανάλωση αποτελεί μια έννοια κλειδί στην εκπαίδευση για το περιβάλλον και την αειφορία καθώς βρίσκεται στον πυρήνα όλων των ζητημάτων που πραγματεύεται. Βασική άλλωστε επιδίωξη της εκπαίδευσης αυτής είναι να γίνουν οι εκπαιδευόμενοι παράγοντες της αλλαγής προς περισσότερο αειφόρα καταναλωτικά πρότυπα. Γιατί όμως η κατανάλωση συνδέεται τόσο άμεσα με τα σημερινά ζητήματα του περιβάλλοντος και της αειφορίας; Ποιοι είναι οι παράγοντες που έχουν διαμορφώσει το σύγχρονο καταναλωτικό μοντέλο; Σε αυτές τις ερωτήσεις θα επιχειρήσουμε να απαντήσουμε σε αυτό το κείμενο. Θα εξετάσουμε ακόμα το εννοιολογικό πλαίσιο της υπεύθυνης κατανάλωσης, τους παράγοντες που επιδρούν στην αλλαγή της καταναλωτικής συμπεριφοράς καθώς και τα αμφιλεγόμενα ζητήματα που ενυπάρχουν στην εκπαίδευση για την υπεύθυνη κατανάλωση. Τέλος θα συζητήσουμε τρόπους για την ένταξή της στην εκπαιδευτική πράξη.
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This article discusses the role of culture in political ecology, with a focus on degrowth. Environmental scientists increasingly consider systemic societal changes such as degrowth as indispensable for the effective tackling of current climate and ecological crises, while governments and civil society remain skeptical of it. To tackle this challenge, this article argues for the strategic employment of cultural practices, values, narratives and identities within degrowth politics. The majority of existing degrowth scholarship considers cultural politics in terms of prefiguration – the act of performing degrowth futures in the present. Drawing on Stuart Hall's concept of politics as production, Chantal Mouffe's plea for a left populism, John Jordan's practice of artivism and Caroline Levine's notion of strategic formalism, this article advocates an extended understanding of cultural politics. It proposes a conceptual framework and research agenda that considers three dimensions of cultural politics: prefiguration, popularization and pressure. To illustrate these dimensions, it gives examples from contemporary activism and popular culture. The article's scientific goal is to conceptualize the functional and strategic role culture can play as instrument in the campaigning and activist uprising for degrowth. Its practical goal is to offer degrowth advocates and activists insights on how to mobilize various existing and emerging cultural forms towards their end.
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The concept of economic growth is arguably the most defining feature of twentieth century economics. In the twenty-first century however, the harmful consequences of ever more growth have become a danger to planet and people. And while the dominant role of growth in the economic system has always been criticized, those voices used to be few and far between. Yet, in recent years critics of growth have not only become significantly more vocal, the debate has also reached international organizations (IOs). And while no IO has abandoned growth as a major policy objective yet, it now usually comes with a qualifier such as "green", "sustainable", "inclusive" or "balanced". Moreover, there are organizational niches in which post-growth already exists, including ideas on "beyond GDP" approaches, wellbeing economics and the reduction of the EU's material and consumption foot print. This paper conceptualizes this emerging ideational change within IOs as niche-regime interactions and traces the concept of degrowth within the European Union (EU) using a combination of desk research, document analysis and participant observation. Combining the literature of post-growth with insights from transition studies, the article analyzes the evolution of degrowth within the EU. It thus contributes to a better understanding how post-growth ideas are currently perceived and also presents a new approach to the study of ideational change in organizations.
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In modern society, economic growth is considered to be the primary goal pursued through policymaking. But when and how did this perception become widely adopted among social scientists, politicians and the general public? Focusing on the OECD, one of the least understood international organisations, Schmelzer offers the first transnational study to chart the history of growth discourses. He reveals how the pursuit of GDP growth emerged as a societal goal and the ways in which the methods employed to measure, model and prescribe growth resulted in statistical standards, international policy frameworks and widely accepted norms. Setting his analysis within the context of capitalist development, post-war reconstruction, the Cold War, decolonization, and industrial crisis, The Hegemony of Growth sheds new light on the continuous reshaping of the growth paradigm up to the neoliberal age and adds historical depth to current debates on climate change, inequality and the limits to growth.
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Degrowth is a rejection of the illusion of growth and a call to repoliticize the public debate colonized by the idiom of economism. It is a project advocating the democratically-led shrinking of production and consumption with the aim of achieving social justice and ecological sustainability. This overview of degrowth offers a comprehensive coverage of the main topics and major challenges of degrowth in a succinct, simple and accessible manner. In addition, it offers a set of keywords useful for intervening in current political debates and for bringing about concrete degrowth-inspired proposals at different levels [en] local, national and global. The result is the most comprehensive coverage of the topic of degrowth in English and serves as the definitive international reference.
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The ‘crisis of the welfare state’ and controversies about the ‘burden’ of social expenditure or the ‘looming menace’ of demographic ageing have now become staple items on the political agenda of industrialized countries. However, we still lack proper historical understanding of how these paradigms spread from country to country through various transnational channels. In order to fill in this gap, I go back to the incubation decade of these controversies (1975–1985), when the combined pressure of the recession and resurgent free-market ideology challenged the post-war consensus for social security expansion. Using the archives of both the International Labour Office (ILO) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), this chapter analyses this critical juncture by comparing the divergent outcomes of two interconnected policy initiatives. I investigate first the activities of a task force convened in 1980 by the Director-General of the ILO and whose final report (Into the 21st Century, 1984) attempted to counter critiques accusing social expenditures of exacerbating the impact of the 1970s recession. I then explore the genesis of the Welfare State in Crisis conference convened by the OECD in Paris in October 1980. While the ILO report is now largely forgotten, the OECD conference is still widely considered as an early signpost for the above-mentioned paradigm shift in social policy development.
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When, how and why did the expectation of exponential economic growth emerge historically? This article explores this question through a transnational historical analysis of economic and policy-making expertise within the debates of the industrialized countries’ think tank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its predecessor, the OEEC. It focuses in particular on the setting of growth targets in the years 1952, 1961, and 1970. These targets not only illustrate the escalatory logic of exponential growth but also highlight the changing concepts, justifications, and implications that mark the (re-)making of the economic growth paradigm at key junctures in postwar history.
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Gross domestic product is arguably the best-known statistic in the contemporary world, and certainly amongst the most powerful. It drives government policy and sets priorities in a variety of vital social fields - from schooling to healthcare. Yet for perhaps the first time since it was invented in the 1930s, this popular icon of economic growth has come to be regarded by a wide range of people as a 'problem'. After all, does our quality of life really improve when our economy grows 2 or 3 per cent? Can we continue to sacrifice the environment to safeguard a vision of the world based on the illusion of infinite economic growth? In Gross Domestic Problem, Lorenzo Fioramonti takes apart the 'content' of GDP - what it measures, what it doesn't and why - and reveals the powerful political interests that have allowed it to dominate today's economies. In doing so, he demonstrates just how little relevance GDP has to moral principles such as equity, social justice and redistribution, and shows that an alternative is possible, as evinced by the 'de-growth' movement and initiatives such as transition towns. A startling insight into the politics of a number that has come to dominate our everyday lives.
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The environmental sustainability of economic growth has been subject to much debate for many decades. Recently, two alternatives to the growth paradigm have been put forward: namely, a-growth and degrowth. The first proposes to ignore GDP information and focus instead on sound environmental, social, and economic policies independently of their effects on economic growth. The second recommends a downscaling of the economy so as to make it consistent with biophysical boundaries. We compare these approaches in the context of the growth paradigm and examine whether they have any merit. We further consider the potential contribution of institutional economics to further develop such alternatives. © 2012, Journal of Economic Issues/Association for Evolutionary Economics.
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‘Economic crisis’ is conventionally understood as the absence of economic growth. However, far from being straightforward and self-explanatory, this understanding is itself an expression of a very particular ensemble of statistical techniques, economic theory, state practices and broader societal beliefs; it is not adequate for the historical analysis of what people have historically perceived as economic crises. This article aims at illustrating this divergence by analysing debates within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the so-called ‘problems of modern society’ from 1968 to 1974. These problems, which occurred at a time of comparatively robust economic performance, were perceived by contemporaries as a crisis closely related to the economic system. This debate led to a new impetus to recast the formerly dominant quantitative-growth paradigm in terms of environmental policies and qualitative growth. It was spearheaded by critical intellectuals within the OECD Secretariat and the OECD's Committee on Science and Technology Policy, who were at the same time launching the Club of Rome. In this article I will draw out the main arguments, actors, relevant contexts and effects of this discussion to highlight some of the characteristics of the intellectual uncertainty so distinctive of this period. The author argues that a historical understanding of this ‘crisis before the crisis’ demands a broader conception of economic crisis, one that is able to grapple with the divergence of economic growth, human welfare and environmental sustainability.
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Die Ungleichheit zwischen armen und reichen Ländern gehört seit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg zu den wichtigsten Themen der internationalen Politik. Dieses Buch zeigt historisch auf, welche Formen des Wissens dabei global bedeutsam wurden. Im Zentrum steht die Geschichte des zahlenmäßigen Vergleichs von Volkswirtschaften nach ihrem Bruttosozialprodukt. Diese Sichtweise war bis in die 1930er-Jahre unbekannt. Sie stammt aus der quantifizierenden Makroökonomie, doch die Vertreter dieser Disziplin standen den gesamtwirtschaftlichen Abstraktionen lange äußerst skeptisch gegenüber. Erst als nach 1945 aus dem Tagesgeschäft der internationalen Politik und der Diplomatie heraus eine neue Nachfrage nach globalen Statistiken entstand, trat das Bruttosozialprodukt seinen Siegeszug an. Die volkswirtschaftliche Gesamtrechnung stellte eine vermeintlich neutrale Darstellung von weltwirtschaftlicher Ungleichheit bereit, die es den politischen Akteuren erlaubte, Komplexitäten zu reduzieren. Daniel Speich Chassé untersucht diese Verringerung von Komplexität. Am Beispiel des wachsenden Einflusses von Wissenschaftlern auf die internationale Politik zeigt er auf, welches Potenzial die Wissensgeschichte in der Verbindung mit der Globalgeschichte hat. Eine neue Sichtweise des Dekolonisationsprozesses und der Entstehung von internationalen Organisationen wird entworfen. Und weiterführende Perspektiven zur Erforschung der Erfolgsgeschichte der Wirtschaftswissenschaften werden skizziert.
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Gross domestic product is a misleading measure of national success. Countries should act now to embrace new metrics, urge Robert Costanza and colleagues.
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Despite all theoretically and empirically motivated criticism of GDP as a social welfare and progress indicator, its role in economics, public policy, politics and society continues to be influential. To resolve this paradox, one has to recognize that many economists accept the criticism of the GDP indicator but deny its relevance. This paper evaluates the reasons for denial. This entails five steps: (1) a brief review is offered of the extensive literature showing that GDP per capita (growth) is far from a robust indicator of social welfare (progress); (2) the influence of GDP information on economic decisions by firms, consumers, investors and governments is examined; (3) behavioural explanations for a widespread belief in the relevance of GDP are discussed; (4) the customary arguments in favour of the GDP indicator are analysed; and (5) proposed alternatives to GDP are evaluated. The paper ends with outlining the implications of giving less attention to GDP information in policy and politics. It is argued that removal of the information failure which GDP represents, in monitoring economic progress and guiding public policy, will lead to decisions and developments being more in line with improving human well-being. Moreover, ignoring GDP information is consistent with a perfectly neutral stance regarding economic (GDP) growth. Indeed, an unconditional anti- or pro-growth imperative acts as an unnecessary constraint on our search for human progress.
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Mismeasuring Our Lives is the result of this major intellectual effort, containing pressing relevance for anonyme engaged in assessing how and whether our economy is serving the needs of our society. The authors offer a sweeping assessment of GDP's limitations as a measurement of the well-being of societies and introduce a bold array of new concepts from sustainable measures of economic welfare to evaluations of savings and wealth and a "green GDP". At a time when policy makers worldwide are grappling with unprecedented global financial and environmemntal issues. Mismeasuring Our Lives is an essential guide to measuring the things that matter most.
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Undoing democracy : neoliberalism's remaking of state and subject -- Foucault's birth of biopolitics lectures : the distinctiveness of neoliberal rationality -- Revising Foucault : homo politicus and homo oeconomicus -- Disseminating neoliberal rationality I : governance, benchmarks and best practices -- Disseminating neoliberal rationality II : law and legal reason -- Disseminating neoliberal rationality III : higher education and the abandonment of citizenship -- Losing bare democracy and the inversion of freedom into sacrifice.
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Oil is a curse, it is often said, that condemns the countries producing it to an existence defined by war, corruption and enormous inequality. Carbon Democracy tells a more complex story, arguing that no nation escapes the political consequences of our collective dependence on oil. It shapes the body politic both in regions such as the Middle East, which rely upon revenues from oil production, and in the places that have the greatest demand for energy. Timothy Mitchell begins with the history of coal power to tell a radical new story about the rise of democracy. Coal was a source of energy so open to disruption that oligarchies in the West became vulnerable for the first time to mass demands for democracy. In the mid-twentieth century, however, the development of cheap and abundant energy from oil, most notably from the Middle East, offered a means to reduce this vulnerability to democratic pressures. The abundance of oil made it possible for the first time in history to reorganize political life around the management of something now called "the economy" and the promise of its infinite growth. The politics of the West became dependent on an undemocratic Middle East. In the twenty-first century, the oil-based forms of modern democratic politics have become unsustainable. Foreign intervention and military rule are faltering in the Middle East, while governments everywhere appear incapable of addressing the crises that threaten to end the age of carbon democracy-- the disappearance of cheap energy and the carbon-fuelled collapse of the ecological order. -- Book jacket.
Chapter
We are suffering just now from a bad attack of economic pessimism. It is common to hear people say that the epoch of enormous economic progress which characterised the nineteenth century is over; that the rapid improvement in the standard of life is now going to slow down—at any rate in Great Britain; that a decline in prosperity is more likely than an improvement in the decade which lies ahead of us.
Chapter
For more than half a century, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been viewed as the dominant indicator of economic and social progress. Its visibility and increasingly widespread use have contributed to the incorrect identification of economic growth (that is, increased GDP) with improved well-being for all. GDP’s supremacy as an indicator is being challenged, however: around the world, its limits are being questioned and solutions proposed for overcoming them. Given the broadly accepted idea that indicators affect reality, changing them is a high-stakes issue. Potentially, re-fashioning progress indicators may change our representations of the world, redefine our ends, and reinvent the means by which we pursue them. Such a change is part of a complex transformation currently taking place in our economic, social, political ideological systems. The four sections of this paper put forward the argument that the debate over new progress indicators is symptomatic of an historical turning point, and for this reason deserves careful attention. The first section reviews the specific context in which national accounting was established as an economic policy tool rooted in post-war social compromises. The second section discusses the three major justifications for the search for alternative indicators: social goals which economic growth captures inaccurately or not at all; the gap between economic growth and subjective assessments of "life satisfaction"; and, finally, the complex and urgent issue of the environment. The third section presents a concise overview of existing indicators that claim to supplement or replace GDP, dividing them among the three categories of justification described above and demonstrating the inextricable link between methodological and normative questions. From this follows the fourth and final section, which addresses the core questions raised by GDP and the problem of replacing it, and examines the hypothesis that our societies are at an historical turning point in which new compromises are emerging, in ways not yet entirely discernable to social actors.
Book
Einst gehörte es zu den zentralen Aufgaben der Soziologie, die moderne Gesellschaft über die sozialen Voraussetzungen und Konsequenzen ihrer Krisenhaftigkeit aufzuklären. Diesem heute oft vernachlässigten Anliegen fühlen sich die Autoren dieses Bandes verpflichtet und stellen die Frage nach dem zeitdiagnostischen Potential soziologischer Analyse in den Mittelpunkt einer Debatte. Zeitdiagnostisch fundierte Gesellschaftskritik, so eine ihrer Thesen, gehört zum Kerngeschäft der Soziologie. Eine zweite besagt, daß jede Gesellschaftskritik der Gegenwart notwendig auch Kapitalismuskritik sein muß. Anhand von drei unterschiedlichen, aber komplementären Perspektiven auf aktuelle Prozesse der Landnahme, der Aktivierung und der Beschleunigung wird eine soziologische Kritik der Gegenwartsgesellschaft entfaltet, die zugleich Ansatzpunkte für politisches Handeln aufzeigt.
Chapter
Vice President Richard M. Nixon boasted about American color television to Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, during their famous “kitchen debate” of July 1959, but the early Cold War was fought in black and white. The issues were monochrome and so were the images: stacks of Marshall Plan flour on an Italian wharf, C-47s approaching Tempelhof airport over the ruins of Berlin during the blockade, films of blast furnaces with white sparks emitted against a night sky, and the photos of the American vice president and the Soviet first secretary debating the path to household affluence in a Moscow exposition hall. At stake in that model American kitchen was consumer affluence or collective prowess, suburban dreams of the Eisenhower years versus Khrushchev’s cocky promise from 1956, “We will bury you,” rendered plausible a year later by the trail of Sputnik in the night sky. Still, when Nixon and Khrushchev debated their societies’ respective achievements, they agreed that peaceful competition was preferable to ruthless military or political confrontation. Peaceful competition meant primarily economic competition: the rivalry between capitalism and state socialism. Divergent economic systems should not be so menacing that they compelled a strategic arms race; the two sides had not organized extensive alliances just to defend private or state ownership of capital, the market or the plan. Nonetheless, distinctions between socialism and capitalism seemed fundamental to ideological identity and to bloc cohesion in the 1950s, as they would again in the 1980s when the state socialist economies showed evident signs of decomposition. Neither were the distinctions just a source of ideological identity, no more than the stake of economic rivalry was just household appliances. The two economic systems had to provide the resources to sustain the military confrontation and subsidize allies. National power depended on economic achievement — a point the American vice president recognized when he conceded that the Soviets still led in getting payloads into orbit.
Book
Our narratives of postwar Japan have long been cast in terms almost synonymous with the story of rapid economic growth. Scott O'Bryan reinterprets this seemingly familiar history through an innovative exploration, not of the anatomy of growth itself, but of the history of growth as a set of discourses by which Japanese "growth performance" as "economic miracle" came to be articulated. The premise of his work is simple: To our understandings of the material changes that took place in Japan during the second half of the twentieth century we must also add perspectives that account for growth as a new idea around the world, one that emerged alongside rapid economic expansion in postwar Japan and underwrote the modes by which it was imagined, forecast, pursued, and regulated. In an accessible, lively style, O'Bryan traces the history of growth as an object of social scientific knowledge and as a new analytical paradigm that came to govern the terms by which Japanese understood their national purposes and imagined a newly materialist vision of social and individual prosperity. Several intersecting obsessions worked together after the war to create an agenda of social reform through rapid macroeconomic increase. Epistemological developments within social science provided the conceptual instruments by which technocrats gave birth to a shared lexicon of growth. Meanwhile, reformers combined prewar Marxist critiques with new modes of macroeconomic understanding to mobilize long-standing fears of overpopulation and "backwardness" and argue for a growthist vision of national reformation. O'Bryan also presents surprising accounts of the key role played by the ideal of full employment in national conceptions of recovery and of a new valorization of consumption in the postwar world that was taking shape. Both of these, he argues, formed critical components in a constellation of ideas that even in the context of relative poverty and uncertainty coalesced into a powerful vision of a materially prosperous future. Even as Japan became the premier icon of the growthist ideal, neither the faith in rapid growth as a prescription for national reform nor the ascendancy of social scientific epistemologies that provided its technical support was unique to Japanese experience. The Growth Idea thus helps to historicize a concept of never-ending growth that continues to undergird our most basic beliefs about the success of nations and the operations of the global economy. It is a particularly timely contribution given current imperatives to reconceive ideas of purpose and prosperity in an age of resource depletion and global warming.
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Pessimists have been predicting slowing rates of invention and innovation for centuries, and they have been consistently wrong. This chapter argues that if the US does experience secular stagnation over the next decade or two, it will be self-inflicted. The US must address its infrastructure, education, and training needs. Moreover, it must support aggregate demand to repair the damage caused by the Great Recession and bring the long-term unemployed back into the labour market.
Book
Of Limits and Growth connects three of the most important aspectsof the twentieth century: decolonization, the rise of environmentalism, and the United States' support for economic development and modernization in the Third World. It links these trends by revealing how environmental NGOs challenged and reformed development approaches of the US government, World Bank, and United Nations from the 1960s through the 1990s. The book shows how NGOs promoted the use of 'appropriate' technologies, environmental reviews in the lending process, development plans based on ecological principles, and international cooperation on global issues such as climate change. It also reveals that the 'sustainable development' concept emerged from transnational negotiations in which environmentalists accommodated the developmental aspirations of Third World intellectuals and leaders. In sum, Of Limits and Growth offers a new history of sustainability by elucidating the global origins of environmental activism, the ways in which environmental activists challenged developmentapproaches worldwide, and how environmental non-state actors reshaped the United States' and World Bank's development policies.
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When, how and why did the expectation of exponential economic growth emerge historically? This article explores this question through a transnational historical analysis of economic and policy-making expertise within the debates of the industrialized countries' think tank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its predecessor, the OEEC. It focuses in particular on the setting of growth targets in the years 1952, 1961, and 1970. These targets not only illustrate the escalatory logic of exponential growth but also highlight the changing concepts, justifications, and implications that mark the (re-) making of the economic growth paradigm at key junctures in postwar history.
Article
'Boserup's contribution to our thinking on women's role in development cannot be underestimated. Her keen observations, her use of empirical data and her commitment to greater gender equality are still an inspiration to students, researchers and activists who are interested in a better and more equal world.' From the new Introduction by Nazneen Kanji, Su Fei Tan and Camilla Toulmin 'Women's Role in Economic Development has become a key reference book for anyone - student, scholar, or practitioner - interested in gender and development analyses. This book is important not only because it provided the intellectual underpinning of the Women in Development (WID) analysis, but also because of the lasting influence it had on the development of theoretical, conceptual, and policy thinking in the fields of women, gender, and development. The re-editing of Women's Role in Economic Development, with its new introduction, ensures students, academics, and practitioners continued access to an essential reference for those interested in the women and development literature.' Gender and Development This classic text by Ester Boserup was the first investigation ever undertaken into what happens to women in the process of economic and social growth throughout the developing world, thereby serving as an international benchmark. In the context of the ongoing struggle for women's rights, massive urbanization and international efforts to reduce poverty, this book continues to be a vital text for economists, sociologists, development workers, activists and all those who take an active interest in women's social and economic circumstances and problems throughout the world. A substantial new Introduction by Nazneen Kanji, Su Fei Tan and Camilla Toulmin reflects on Boserup's legacy as a scholar and activist, and the continuing relevance of her work. This highlights the key issue of how the role of women in economic development has or has not changed over the past four decades in developing countries, and covers crucial current topics including: women and inequality, international and national migration, conflict, HIV and AIDS, markets and employment, urbanization, leadership, property rights, global processes, including the Millennium Development Goals, and barriers to change.
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The ubiquity of the commitment to economic growth, which Purdey refers to as the growth paradigm, is extraordinary. National governments around the world are seized of the same objective. Major international institutions such as the UN, the WTO, the World Bank, IMF and OECD, powerful international organizations such as regional trading blocs and multinational corporations - even civil societies of all kinds enthusiastically pursue a larger economic pie. This book examines the deep origins and rise to prominence of the commitment to economic growth. It explains why, despite the diversity of regime types, levels of development, cultures and other divisions typical of international relations, all major actors in the modern global polity pursue an identical political priority. Purdey critically examines the growth paradigm highlighting its normative foundations and its environmental impact, especially climate change. Using a neo-Gramscian approach, Purdey re-engages the 'limits to growth' controversy, identifying the commitment to growth as a form of utopianism that is as dangerous as it is seductive. By illuminating and interrogating the history, politics and morality of the growth paradigm, this book shifts the terrain of the limits debate from instrumental to ethical considerations. It will be of interest to students and scholars of political economy, international relations, environmental studies and ethics.
Article
This book collects together for the first time Anthony Brewer's work on the origins and development of the theory of economic growth from the late eighteenth century and looking at how it came to dominate economic thinking in the nineteenth century. Brewer argues that many of the earliest proponents of economics growth theory had no concept of it as a continuing theory. This book looks at many of the key players such as Smith, Hume, Ferguson, Steuart, Turgot, West and Rae and is tied together with a rigorous introduction and a new chapter on capital accumulation.
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Using formerly secret Soviet state and Communist Party archives to describe the Soviet administrative command system, this study concludes that the system failed not because of Stalin and later leaders, but because of the economic system. It pinpoints the reasons for failure such as poor planning, unreliable supplies, preferential treatment of indigenous enterprises as well as the basic principal-agent conflict between planners and producers, which created a sixty-year reform stalemate. Although the command system was the most significant human experiment of the twentieth century, its basic contradictions and inherent flaws would re-surface if it were to be repeated.
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'Peter Victor clearly presents the arguments as to why already relatively rich countries may have to manage low or no growth in their economies if they wish to address rather than continue contributing to global environmental problems. His modelling suggests that managing without growth need not be the economic disaster that is so often assumed. This is a lucid book that provides an excellent introduction to this important but neglected area.'
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Economists and Societiesis the first book to systematically compare the profession of economics in the United States, Britain, and France, and to explain why economics, far from being a uniform science, differs in important ways among these three countries. Drawing on in-depth interviews with economists, institutional analysis, and a wealth of scholarly evidence, Marion Fourcade traces the history of economics in each country from the late nineteenth century to the present, demonstrating how each political, cultural, and institutional context gave rise to a distinct professional and disciplinary configuration. She argues that because the substance of political life varied from country to country, people's experience and understanding of the economy, and their political and intellectual battles over it, crystallized in different ways--through scientific and mercantile professionalism in the United States, public-minded elitism in Britain, and statist divisions in France. Fourcade moves past old debates about the relationship between culture and institutions in the production of expert knowledge to show that scientific and practical claims over the economy in these three societies arose from different elites with different intellectual orientations, institutional entanglements, and social purposes.Much more than a history of the economics profession,Economists and Societiesis a revealing exploration of American, French, and British society and culture as seen through the lens of their respective economic institutions and the distinctive character of their economic experts.
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Family Influences My interest in economics started early. Until I was six, I lived in Newcastle-on-Tyne, where the main industries were shipbuilding and coal-mining. A large proportion of the work force were unemployed throughout the l920s, and unemployment was massive in l929-33. My father had a steady job as a railway fitter but I had two unemployed uncles, and there were many unemployed neighbours. The unemployed were not only poor but depressed. Many loitered aimlessly at streetcorners, looked haggard, wore mufflers and cloth caps and smoked fag-ends. Their children were often sickly or tubercular. My father took me to Gateshead every Sunday to see my grandmother. The double-decker bridge across the Tyne had openwork iron girders with a long drop to a dirty river that flowed between laid-up ships and a long line of derelict factories. The bleak image of the dead economy was sharpened by the noise and vibration above. Trams rattled down the middle of the roadway, and trains rumbled ominously overhead. At the Gateshead end, the buildings were blacker, and the clusters of unemployed thicker than in Newcastle. I saw nowhere so depressing until visiting Calcutta thirty years later. In l933, the railway workshops were relocated in Darlington. We only moved 30 miles but it was a different world with much less unemployment. I was also aware of other improvements, as I knew that food prices had fallen and that mortgages were affordable.
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La 4e de couverture indique : "Les scientifiques nous l'annoncent, la Terre est entrée dans une nouvelle époque : l'Anthropocène. Ce qui nous arrive n'est pas une crise environnementale, c'est une révolution géologique d'origine humaine. Depuis la révolution thermo-industrielle, notre planète a basculé vers un état inédit. Les traces de notre âge urbain, consumériste, chimique et nucléaire resteront des milliers voire des millions d'années dans les archives géologiques de la planète et soumettront les sociétés humaines à des dffficultés considérables. Comment en sommes-nous arrivés là ? Faisant dialoguer science et histoire, les auteurs dressent l'inventaire écologique d'un modèle de développement devenu insoutenable, ébranlent bien des idées reçues sur notre prétendue "prise de conscience environnementale" et ouvrent des pistes pour vivre et agir politiquement dans l'Anthropocène."