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Energy, property, and the industrial revolution narrative

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  • Barca, Stefania

Abstract

The Industrial Revolution (IR) story is the core of a mainstream economic history narrative of energy/development relationships, celebrating Modern Economic Growth (MEG) as the increase in per capita energy consumption in the last two centuries. Such a narrative emphasizes mineral technology and private property as the key elements of growth processes. I will criticize the above narrative, from a socio-environmental history perspective, for its inability to account for two crucial aspects of energy history: 1. the role of social power as key determinant in how energy sources are used and to what ends; 2. the socio-ecological costs associated with the increase of energy consumption. I will then review Environmental History studies on energy/industrialization and highlight possible future developments in the field. The article makes a strong point for the need to look at energy transitions as social processes, and to include the unequal distribution of environmental, health, and social costs of mineral energy into global history narratives.

Suggested Citation

  • Barca, Stefania, 2011. "Energy, property, and the industrial revolution narrative," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(7), pages 1309-1315, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:7:p:1309-1315
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Schandl, Heinz & Schulz, Niels, 2002. "Changes in the United Kingdom's natural relations in terms of society's metabolism and land-use from 1850 to the present day," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 203-221, May.
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    4. Anderberg, Stefan, 1998. "Industrial metabolism and the linkages between economics, ethics and the environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2-3), pages 311-320, February.
    5. Cusso, Xavier & Garrabou, Ramon & Tello, Enric, 2006. "Social metabolism in an agrarian region of Catalonia (Spain) in 1860-1870: Flows, energy balance and land use," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 49-65, June.
    6. Peter Mathias, 2003. "Energy and the Industrial Revolution. In memoriam - Carlo M. Cipolla," Rivista di storia economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 1, pages 109-134.
    7. Martinez-Alier, Joan & Schandl, Heinz, 2002. "Special Section: European Environmental History and Ecological Economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 175-176, May.
    8. Douglas, Ian & Hodgson, Rob & Lawson, Nigel, 2002. "Industry, environment and health through 200 years in Manchester," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 235-255, May.
    9. Hornborg, Alf, 2006. "Footprints in the cotton fields: The Industrial Revolution as time-space appropriation and environmental load displacement," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 74-81, August.
    10. Krausmann, Fridolin & Haberl, Helmut, 2002. "The process of industrialization from the perspective of energetic metabolism: Socioeconomic energy flows in Austria 1830-1995," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 177-201, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Mohajan, Haradhan, 2015. "Sustainable Development Policy of Global Economy," MPRA Paper 82815, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 30 Mar 2015.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:4:p:924-:d:137588 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:eee:rensus:v:81:y:2018:i:p1:p:181-191 is not listed on IDEAS

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