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The identity of ecological economics: retrospects and prospects


  • Begüm Özkaynak
  • Fikret Adaman
  • Pat Devine


The paper first reveals the relevance of ecological economics in the time of a triple crisis—ecological, social and economic—and promotes it as a distinct paradigm comprised of two interconnected and interdependent aspects: the qualitative framework within which it operates; and the quantitative models and techniques it uses to observe ecosystem resilience, measure progress towards sustainability and evaluate policies. While acknowledging the progress that has so far been made, the paper argues that divergences in understanding the meaning and content of ecological economics hinder its effectiveness and influence on real-world policy making, and calls for a unified framework as a common ground that would strengthen the field and direct research. The implication of this position then follows, pointing out what has so far been missing from the ecological economics’ analysis and what should be done for it to become a more problem-oriented and policy-relevant alternative. Copyright , Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Begüm Özkaynak & Fikret Adaman & Pat Devine, 2012. "The identity of ecological economics: retrospects and prospects," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(5), pages 1123-1142.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cambje:v:36:y:2012:i:5:p:1123-1142

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    Cited by:

    1. Fikret Adaman & Yahya M. Madra, 2012. "Understanding Neoliberalism as Economization: The Case of the Ecology," Working Papers 2012/04, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    2. Franco, Marco P.V., 2018. "Searching for a Scientific Paradigm in Ecological Economics: The History of Ecological Economic Thought, 1880s–1930s," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 195-203.
    3. Orchard-Webb, Johanne & Kenter, Jasper O. & Bryce, Ros & Church, Andrew, 2016. "Deliberative Democratic Monetary Valuation to implement the Ecosystem Approach," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 21(PB), pages 308-318.
    4. 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.
    5. Henrique N. S'a Earp & Ademar R. Romeiro, 2013. "The Entropy Law and the impossibility of perpetual economic growth," Papers 1309.2274,
    6. Natalia Molina Cetrulo & Tiago Balieiro Cetrulo & Sylmara Lopes Francelino Goncalves-Dias & Rodrigo Martins Moreira, 2018. "Waste Management and Sustainability: Indicators under Ecological Economy Perspective," Journal of Management and Sustainability, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 8(1), pages 20-30, March.
    7. Emanuele Felice, 2016. "The Misty Grail: The Search for a Comprehensive Measure of Development and the Reasons for GDP Primacy," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 47(5), pages 967-994, September.
    8. Morgan, Jamie, 2017. "Piketty and the Growth Dilemma Revisited in the Context of Ecological Economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 169-177.
    9. Gendron, Corinne, 2014. "Beyond environmental and ecological economics: Proposal for an economic sociology of the environment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 240-253.

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