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Heterodox Political Economy and the Degrowth Perspective

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  • Kent Klitgaard

    () (Wells College, Aurora 13026, NY, USA)

Abstract

The transition to sustainability will be difficult. Environmental sustainability entails living within the Earth’s limits, yet the majority of scientific studies indicate a condition of overshoot. For mainstream economists sustainability means perpetuating economic growth. Consequently, environmental and economic sustainability are incompatible in the present institutional context. This paper seeks to develop a new theory of sustainability based upon historical and institutional contexts, the role of economic crises, as well as focusing upon energy quality and meaningful work. Mainstream economics, which emphasizes market self-regulation and economic growth, is not a good vehicle for a theory of sustainability. Better insights are to be found in the literature of heterodox political economy and political ecology. Political ecology is based upon the theory of monopoly capital. Monopoly capitalism exhibits a tendency towards stagnation, because the economic surplus cannot be absorbed adequately in the absence of system-wide waste. The Monthly Review School continues this tradition in the context of the metabolic rift, while the Capitalism, Nature and Socialism School develops the idea of a second contradiction of capitalism. The Social Structure of Accumulation school pursues the idea of long swings of economic activity based upon institutional structures that aid or inhibit capital accumulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Kent Klitgaard, 2013. "Heterodox Political Economy and the Degrowth Perspective," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(1), pages 1-22, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:5:y:2013:i:1:p:276-297:d:23002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Klitgaard, Kent A. & Krall, Lisi, 2012. "Ecological economics, degrowth, and institutional change," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 247-253.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:ecolec:v:146:y:2018:i:c:p:157-163 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Buch-Hansen, Hubert, 2014. "Capitalist diversity and de-growth trajectories to steady-state economies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 167-173.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    heterodox political economy; political ecology; metabolic rift; monopoly capitalism; social structure of accumulation; second contradiction of capitalism; energy return on investment;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • 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
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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