IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/ecolec/v109y2015icp194-202.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Unraveling the veil of fuzziness: A thick description of sustainability economics

Author

Listed:
  • Remig, Moritz C.

Abstract

This article provides a thick description (Geertz, 1973) of sustainability economics. Baumgärtner and Quaas (2010a, b) have proposed as an alternative to ecological economics the new field of sustainability economics, which has triggered various replies. The purpose here is to order and to review these contributions. Building upon a literature review of sustainability economics, the paper argues that the concept currently has more of a fuzzy and declamatory character. The rhetoric (McCloskey, 1998) of sustainability economics contains general issues of sustainability economics, externalities and the capability approach. The article argues that it is currently not clear how the solutions for science and policy proposed by sustainability economics differ from those of ecological economics. Efforts should be directed towards further development of the theory and the operationalization of sustainability principles. The systemic view of co-evolutionary development, social learning and sustainability economics' normative underpinning merits more consideration in the debate about sustainability economics.

Suggested Citation

  • Remig, Moritz C., 2015. "Unraveling the veil of fuzziness: A thick description of sustainability economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 194-202.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:109:y:2015:i:c:p:194-202
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.11.016
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800914003632
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2014.11.016?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sneddon, Chris & Howarth, Richard B. & Norgaard, Richard B., 2006. "Sustainable development in a post-Brundtland world," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 253-268, May.
    2. Baumgärtner, Stefan & Becker, Christian & Frank, Karin & Müller, Birgit & Quaas, Martin, 2008. "Relating the philosophy and practice of ecological economics: The role of concepts, models, and case studies in inter- and transdisciplinary sustainability research," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 384-393, October.
    3. Jahn, Thomas & Bergmann, Matthias & Keil, Florian, 2012. "Transdisciplinarity: Between mainstreaming and marginalization," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 1-10.
    4. Anderson, Blake & M'Gonigle, Michael, 2012. "Does ecological economics have a future?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 37-48.
    5. Kenneth Arrow & Partha Dasgupta & Lawrence Goulder & Gretchen Daily & Paul Ehrlich & Geoffrey Heal & Simon Levin & Karl-Göran Mäler & Stephen Schneider & David Starrett & Brian Walker, 2004. "Are We Consuming Too Much?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 147-172, Summer.
    6. Bromley, Daniel W., 1990. "The ideology of efficiency: Searching for a theory of policy analysis," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 86-107, July.
    7. Howarth, Richard B., 2007. "Towards an operational sustainability criterion," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 656-663, September.
    8. Common, Mick & Perrings, Charles, 1992. "Towards an ecological economics of sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 7-34, July.
    9. R. H. Coase, 2013. "The Problem of Social Cost," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(4), pages 837-877.
    10. Clive L. Spash, 2011. "Social Ecological Economics: Understanding the Past to See the Future," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(2), pages 340-375, April.
    11. Óscar Carpintero, 2013. "When Heterodoxy Becomes Orthodoxy: Ecological Economics in The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 72(5), pages 1287-1314, November.
    12. Funtowicz, Silvio O. & Ravetz, Jerome R., 1994. "The worth of a songbird: ecological economics as a post-normal science," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 197-207, August.
    13. Gisli Palsson & Bronislaw Szerszynski & Sverker Sörlin & John Marks & Bernard Avril & Carole Crumley & Heide Hackmann & Poul Holm & John Ingram & Alan Kirman & Mercedes Pardo Buendia & Rifka Weehuizen, 2013. "Reconceptualizing the 'Anthropos' in the Anthropocene: Integrating the social sciences and humanities in global environmental change research," Post-Print hal-01500892, HAL.
    14. Illge, Lydia & Schwarze, Reimund, 2009. "A matter of opinion--How ecological and neoclassical environmental economists and think about sustainability and economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 594-604, January.
    15. Arild Vatn & Daniel Bromley, 1997. "Externalities — A market model failure," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 9(2), pages 135-151, March.
    16. Ballet, Jérôme & Bazin, Damien & Dubois, Jean-Luc & Mahieu, François-Régis, 2011. "A note on sustainability economics and the capability approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 1831-1834, September.
    17. Richard B. Norgaard, 1984. "Coevolutionary Development Potential," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 60(2), pages 160-173.
    18. Coase, R. H., 1995. "Essays on Economics and Economists," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226111032, November.
    19. Unknown, 2008. "2008 Editorial Committee," Journal of the ASFMRA, American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, vol. 2008, pages 1-1.
    20. Bithas, Kostas, 2011. "Sustainability and externalities: Is the internalization of externalities a sufficient condition for sustainability?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(10), pages 1703-1706, August.
    21. Kallis, Giorgos & Norgaard, Richard B., 2010. "Coevolutionary ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(4), pages 690-699, February.
    22. Hourcade, Jean-Charles & Salles, Jean-Michel & Thery, Daniel, 1992. "Ecological economics and scientific controversies. Lessons from some recent policy making in the EEC," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 211-233, December.
    23. Lucas Bretschger, 2010. "Sustainability economics, resource efficiency, and the Green New Deal," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 187-202, August.
    24. Birkin, Frank & Polesie, Thomas, 2013. "The relevance of epistemic analysis to sustainability economics and the capability approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 144-152.
    25. Clive L. Spash & Anthony Ryan, 2012. "Economic Schools of Thought on the Environment: Investigating Unity and Division," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(5), pages 1091-1121.
    26. Martins, Nuno, 2011. "Sustainability economics, ontology and the capability approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 1-4.
    27. Mohan Munasinghe, 2002. "The sustainomics trans-disciplinary meta-framework for making development more sustainable: applications to energy issues," International Journal of Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 5(1/2), pages 125-182.
    28. Berger, Sebastian, 2008. "K. William Kapp's theory of social costs and environmental policy: Towards political ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 244-252, September.
    29. K. William Kapp, 1970. "Environmental Disruption And Social Costs: A Challenge To Economics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(4), pages 833-848, November.
    30. Baumgärtner, Stefan & Quaas, Martin, 2010. "Sustainability economics -- General versus specific, and conceptual versus practical," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2056-2059, September.
    31. Daly, Herman E., 1992. "Allocation, distribution, and scale: towards an economics that is efficient, just, and sustainable," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 185-193, December.
    32. Norgaard, Richard B., 1989. "The case for methodological pluralism," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 37-57, February.
    33. Hirschman,Albert O., 1981. "Essays in Trespassing," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521282437, May.
    34. Kapp, K William, 1970. "Environmental Disruption and Social Costs: A Challenge to Economics," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(4), pages 833-848.
    35. Rauschmayer, Felix & Leßmann, Ortrud, 2011. "Assets and drawbacks of the CA as a foundation for sustainability economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(11), pages 1835-1836, September.
    36. John Gowdy & Jon D. Erickson, 2005. "The approach of ecological economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(2), pages 207-222, March.
    37. Daly, Herman E., 1990. "Toward some operational principles of sustainable development," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 1-6, April.
    38. David Pearce, 1976. "The Limits Of Cost‐Benefit Analysis As A Guide To Environmental Policy," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(1), pages 97-112, January.
    39. Walter, Gerald R., 2002. "Economics, ecology-based communities, and sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 81-87, August.
    40. Binder, Martin & Witt, Ulrich, 2012. "A critical note on the role of the capability approach for sustainability economics," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 721-725.
    41. Bartelmus, Peter, 2010. "Use and usefulness of sustainability economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2053-2055, September.
    42. Polishchuk, Yuliana & Rauschmayer, Felix, 2012. "Beyond “benefits”? Looking at ecosystem services through the capability approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 103-111.
    43. Baumgärtner, Stefan & Quaas, Martin, 2010. "What is sustainability economics?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 445-450, January.
    44. Richard B. Howarth & Richard B. Norgaard, 1990. "Intergenerational Resource Rights, Efficiency, and Social Optimality," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 66(1), pages 1-11.
    45. Ayres, Robert U., 2008. "Sustainability economics: Where do we stand?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 281-310, September.
    46. Spash, Clive L., 2012. "New foundations for ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 36-47.
    47. Brandt, Patric & Ernst, Anna & Gralla, Fabienne & Luederitz, Christopher & Lang, Daniel J. & Newig, Jens & Reinert, Florian & Abson, David J. & von Wehrden, Henrik, 2013. "A review of transdisciplinary research in sustainability science," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 1-15.
    48. Max-Neef, Manfred A., 2005. "Foundations of transdisciplinarity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 5-16, April.
    49. Common, Mick, 2011. "The relationship between externality, and its correction, and sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 453-453, January.
    50. van den Bergh, Jeroen C.J.M., 2010. "Externality or sustainability economics?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(11), pages 2047-2052, September.
    51. James A. Swaney & Martin A. Evers, 1989. "The Social Cost Concepts of K. William Kapp and Karl Polanyi," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(1), pages 7-33, March.
    52. David Barkin & Mario E. Fuente Carrasco & Daniel Tagle Zamora, 2012. "La significación de una Economía Ecológica radical," Revista Iberoamericana de Economía Ecológica, Red Iberoamericana de Economía Ecológica, vol. 19, pages 1-14, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Ballet, Jérôme & Marchand, Lucile & Pelenc, Jérôme & Vos, Robin, 2018. "Capabilities, Identity, Aspirations and Ecosystem Services: An Integrated Framework," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 21-28.
    2. Remig, Moritz C., 2017. "Structured pluralism in ecological economics — A reply to Peter Söderbaum's commentary," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 533-537.
    3. Drupp, Moritz A. & Baumgärtner, Stefan & Meyer, Moritz & Quaas, Martin F. & von Wehrden, Henrik, 2020. "Between Ostrom and Nordhaus: The research landscape of sustainability economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 172(C).
    4. Buchs, Arnaud & Petit, Olivier & Roman, Philippe, 2020. "Can social ecological economics of water reinforce the “big tent”?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 169(C).
    5. Vildåsen, Sigurd Sagen & Keitsch, Martina & Fet, Annik Magerholm, 2017. "Clarifying the Epistemology of Corporate Sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 40-46.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Remig, Moritz C., 2017. "Structured pluralism in ecological economics — A reply to Peter Söderbaum's commentary," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 533-537.
    2. Spash, Clive L., 2013. "The shallow or the deep ecological economics movement?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 351-362.
    3. Lo, Alex, 2014. "The Problem of Methodological Pluralism in Ecological Economics," MPRA Paper 49543, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Michael B. Wironen & Robert V. Bartlett & Jon D. Erickson, 2019. "Deliberation and the Promise of a Deeply Democratic Sustainability Transition," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(4), pages 1-18, February.
    5. Plumecocq, Gaël, 2014. "The second generation of ecological economics: How far has the apple fallen from the tree?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 457-468.
    6. Dube, Benjamin, 2021. "Why cross and mix disciplines and methodologies?: Multiple meanings of Interdisciplinarity and pluralism in ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 179(C).
    7. Spash, Clive L., 2020. "A tale of three paradigms: Realising the revolutionary potential of ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 169(C).
    8. Teixeira, Aurora A. C. & Castro e Silva, Manuela, 2015. "Relational environment and intellectual roots of 'ecological economics': An orthodox or heterodox field of research?," Economics Discussion Papers 2015-52, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
    9. Birkin, Frank & Polesie, Thomas, 2013. "The relevance of epistemic analysis to sustainability economics and the capability approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 144-152.
    10. Lundgren, Jakob, 2022. "Unity through disunity: Strengths, values, and tensions in the disciplinary discourse of ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 191(C).
    11. Mabsout, Ramzi, 2015. "Mindful capability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 86-97.
    12. Pirgmaier, Elke, 2017. "The Neoclassical Trojan Horse of Steady-State Economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 52-61.
    13. Castro e Silva, Manuela & Teixeira, Aurora A.C., 2011. "A bibliometric account of the evolution of EE in the last two decades: Is ecological economics (becoming) a post-normal science?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 849-862, March.
    14. Drupp, Moritz A. & Baumgärtner, Stefan & Meyer, Moritz & Quaas, Martin F. & von Wehrden, Henrik, 2020. "Between Ostrom and Nordhaus: The research landscape of sustainability economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 172(C).
    15. Spash, Clive L., 2019. "Time for a Paradigm Shift: From Economic Growth andPrice-Making Markets to Social Ecological Economics," SRE-Discussion Papers 2019/07, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    16. Clive L. Spash, 2012. "Towards the Integration of Social, Economic and Ecological Knowledge," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: Julien-François Gerber & Rolf Steppacher (ed.), Towards an Integrated Paradigm in Heterodox Economics, chapter 1, pages 26-46, Palgrave Macmillan.
    17. Ballet, Jérôme & Marchand, Lucile & Pelenc, Jérôme & Vos, Robin, 2018. "Capabilities, Identity, Aspirations and Ecosystem Services: An Integrated Framework," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 21-28.
    18. Ballet, Jérôme & Bazin, Damien Jérôme Albert & Komena, Boniface K., 2020. "Unequal capabilities and natural resource management: The case of Côte d’Ivoire," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    19. Buchs, Arnaud & Petit, Olivier & Roman, Philippe, 2020. "Can social ecological economics of water reinforce the “big tent”?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 169(C).
    20. Strunz, Sebastian & Klauer, Bernd & Ring, Irene & Schiller, Johannes, 2014. "Between Scylla and Charybdis: On the place of economic methods and concepts within ecological economics," UFZ Discussion Papers 26/2014, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (ÖKUS).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Sustainable development; Ecological economics; Sustainability economics; Externalities; Efficiency; Capability approach;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B59 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Other
    • Q50 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - General
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:109:y:2015:i:c:p:194-202. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.