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The paradox of growth critique: Narrative analysis of the Finnish sustainable consumption and production debate

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  • Berg, Annukka
  • Hukkinen, Janne I.

Abstract

Academic discussion on economic growth and the environment has made a comeback under the auspices of the degrowth debate. To date, however, literature on the topic has been mainly theoretical and empirical studies of actual policy discussions have received less attention. This article contributes to the debate with a narrative policy analysis of interviews with members of Finland's Committee on sustainable consumption and production. Narrative policy analysis is suitable for complex policy cases. By tracing and comparing the different stories, non-stories and counterstories in the debate, the analysis clarifies the issue and paves the way for solutions. We found that it is common even among business and ministry representatives to criticize the current growth-bound economic system. From the perspective of narrative policy analysis, however, this critique only increases uncertainty and complexity in the policy field which, paradoxically, leads to a strengthening of the dominant growth stories. We suggest that constructing a complete degrowth story is essential for supporting democratic deliberation on sustainability. Robust institutional support for degrowth work together with research and experimentation are important milestones on the way.

Suggested Citation

  • Berg, Annukka & Hukkinen, Janne I., 2011. "The paradox of growth critique: Narrative analysis of the Finnish sustainable consumption and production debate," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 151-160.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:72:y:2011:i:c:p:151-160 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.09.024
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Satterfield, Terre & Slovic, Paul & Gregory, Robin, 2000. "Narrative valuation in a policy judgment context," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 315-331, September.
    2. Martínez-Alier, Joan & Pascual, Unai & Vivien, Franck-Dominique & Zaccai, Edwin, 2010. "Sustainable de-growth: Mapping the context, criticisms and future prospects of an emergent paradigm," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(9), pages 1741-1747, July.
    3. Thomas J. Kaplan, 1986. "The narrative structure of policy analysis," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 5(4), pages 761-778.
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    5. György Pataki, 2009. "Ecological modernization as a paradigm of corporate sustainability," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(2), pages 82-91.
    6. Annukka Berg, 2011. "Not Roadmaps but Toolboxes: Analysing Pioneering National Programmes for Sustainable Consumption and Production," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 9-23, March.
    7. Greg Hampton, 2009. "Narrative policy analysis and the integration of public involvement in decision making," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 42(3), pages 227-242, August.
    8. Elizabeth Shanahan & Mark McBeth & Paul Hathaway & Ruth Arnell, 2008. "Conduit or contributor? The role of media in policy change theory," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 41(2), pages 115-138, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:elg:eechap:15612_1 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Zhu, Qinghua, 2016. "Institutional pressures and support from industrial zones for motivating sustainable production among Chinese manufacturers," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, pages 402-409.
    3. Urhammer, Emil & Røpke, Inge, 2013. "Macroeconomic narratives in a world of crises: An analysis of stories about solving the system crisis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, pages 62-70.
    4. Mockshell, Jonathan & Birner, Regina, 2016. "Agricultural development policy debates: who has the better story?," 2016 AAAE Fifth International Conference, September 23-26, 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 249284, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
    5. Tokic, Damir, 2012. "The economic and financial dimensions of degrowth," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, pages 49-56.
    6. Joutsenvirta, Maria, 2016. "A practice approach to the institutionalization of economic degrowth," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, pages 23-32.
    7. Martin, Chris J., 2016. "The sharing economy: A pathway to sustainability or a nightmarish form of neoliberal capitalism?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, pages 149-159.

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