IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/sol/wpaper/08-028.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The influence of Economics on agricultural systems: an evolutionary and ecological perspective

Author

Listed:
  • Kevin Maréchal
  • Hélène Aubaret-Joachain
  • Jean-Paul Ledant

Abstract

Putting agricultural systems on a more sustainable path is a crucial policy issue. Within that context, the objective of this paper is to show how the unsustainable character of current agricultural systems is strongly related to the prevailing rationale of mainstream economics and the Cartesian-Newtonian worldview on which it is founded. Using the example of the transformation of post-war agriculture in France, our analysis underlines the profound influence of the logic of mainstream economics on the modernisation of agricultural systems. The resulting transformation of agricultural systems based on the triptych specialisation-intensification-concentration is then further explored regarding its negative impacts in terms of sustainability. Particular attention is dedicated to environmental impacts, given their magnitude and the fact that mainstream economics, because of its “mechanistic reductionist” framework, has intrinsic difficulties in dealing with them. Since the fundamental assumptions of mainstream economics are being strongly challenged, it becomes legitimate to resort to an alternative economic framework for designing appropriate policies and measures. Given that many empirical studies demonstrates that agricultural systems may be locked-in to some extent, the choice an evolutionary line of thought in an ecological perspective is quite straightforward. This approach of economic change both underlines its historically-contingent nature and the role played by systemic interdependencies. Through underlining the path-dependence of agricultural systems, the use of the evolutionary framework in an ecological perspective allows us to shed a new light on their transformation by suggesting some strategies (i.e. niche accumulation and hybridisation) that have proven efficient in overcoming cases of lock-in in other fields.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Maréchal & Hélène Aubaret-Joachain & Jean-Paul Ledant, 2008. "The influence of Economics on agricultural systems: an evolutionary and ecological perspective," Working Papers CEB 08-028.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:08-028
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://dipot.ulb.ac.be/dspace/bitstream/2013/53959/1/RePEc_sol_wpaper_08-028.pdf
    File Function: RePEc_sol_wpaper_08-028
    Download Restriction: info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess

    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. Puffert, Douglas J., 2002. "Path Dependence in Spatial Networks: The Standardization of Railway Track Gauge," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 282-314, July.
    2. Ulrich Witt, 2004. "On the proper interpretation of 'evolution' in economics and its implications for production theory," Journal of Economic Methodology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(2), pages 125-146.
    3. Vanloqueren, Gaëtan & Baret, Philippe V., 2008. "Why are ecological, low-input, multi-resistant wheat cultivars slow to develop commercially? A Belgian agricultural 'lock-in' case study," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2-3), pages 436-446, June.
    4. Marechal, Kevin, 2007. "The economics of climate change and the change of climate in economics," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 5181-5194, October.
    5. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    6. Kurt Dopfer, 2006. "The Origins of Meso Economics - Schumpeter's Legacy," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2006-10, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    7. 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.
    8. Kevin Maréchal, 2008. "An evolutionary perspective on the economics of energy consumption: the crucial role of habits," Working Papers CEB 08-012.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    9. Jenkins, T. N., 2000. "Putting postmodernity into practice: endogenous development and the role of traditional cultures in the rural development of marginal regions," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 301-313, September.
    10. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-337, May.
    11. Kirman, Alan, 1989. "The Intrinsic Limits of Modern Economic Theory: The Emperor Has No Clothes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(395), pages 126-139, Supplemen.
    12. Jeroen Bergh, 2007. "Evolutionary thinking in environmental economics," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 17(5), pages 521-549, October.
    13. Raven, Rob, 2007. "Niche accumulation and hybridisation strategies in transition processes towards a sustainable energy system: An assessment of differences and pitfalls," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 2390-2400, April.
    14. Colander, David, 2000. "The Death of Neoclassical Economics," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(02), pages 127-143, June.
    15. John Gowdy, 2006. "Evolutionary Theory and Economic Policy with Reference to Sustainability," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 8(1), pages 1-19, April.
    16. Gafsi, Mohamed & Legagneux, Bruno & Nguyen, Genevieve & Robin, Patrice, 2006. "Towards sustainable farming systems: Effectiveness and deficiency of the French procedure of sustainable agriculture," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-3), pages 226-242, October.
    17. Unruh, Gregory C., 2000. "Understanding carbon lock-in," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(12), pages 817-830, October.
    18. Paul Windrum & Chris Birchenhall, 2005. "Structural change in the presence of network externalities: a co-evolutionary model of technological successions," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 123-148, January.
    19. Hodgson, Geoffrey M, 1993. "The Mecca of Alfred Marshall," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(417), pages 406-415, March.
    20. Huesemann, Michael H., 2001. "Can pollution problems be effectively solved by environmental science and technology? An analysis of critical limitations," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 271-287, May.
    21. Gowdy, John & Erickson, Jon, 2005. "Ecological economics at a crossroads," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 17-20, April.
    22. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
    23. Islas, Jorge, 1997. "Getting round the lock-in in electricity generating systems: the example of the gas turbine," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 49-66, March.
    24. repec:elg:eechap:17588_5 is not listed on IDEAS
    25. Alain Alcouffe & Thomas Kuhn, 2004. "Schumpeterian endogenous growth theory and evolutionary economics," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 223-236, June.
    26. Jeroen C. J. M. van den Bergh & John M. Gowdy, 2003. "The microfoundations of macroeconomics: an evolutionary perspective," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(1), pages 65-84, January.
    27. Wilson, Clevo & Tisdell, Clem, 2001. "Why farmers continue to use pesticides despite environmental, health and sustainability costs," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 449-462, December.
    28. repec:cup:apsrev:v:94:y:2000:i:02:p:251-267_22 is not listed on IDEAS
    29. Tisdell, Clem, 2003. "Socioeconomic causes of loss of animal genetic diversity: analysis and assessment," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 365-376, July.
    30. Harris, Jonathan M., 1996. "World agricultural futures: regional sustainability and ecological limits," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 95-115, May.
    31. Cowan, Robin & Gunby, Philip, 1996. "Sprayed to Death: Path Dependence, Lock-In and Pest Control Strategies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 521-542, May.
    32. Midmore, Peter & Whittaker, Julie, 2000. "Economics for sustainable rural systems," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 173-189, November.
    33. Kurt Dopfer, 2004. "The economic agent as rule maker and rule user: Homo Sapiens Oeconomicus," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 177-195, June.
    34. Foster, John, 1997. "The analytical foundations of evolutionary economics: From biological analogy to economic self-organization," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 427-451, October.
    35. Hodgson, Geoffrey M., 1997. "Economics and the return to Mecca: The recognition of novelty and emergence," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 399-412, October.
    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. Vanloqueren, Gaëtan & Baret, Philippe V., 2009. "How agricultural research systems shape a technological regime that develops genetic engineering but locks out agroecological innovations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 971-983, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agricultural systems; Mechanistic reductionism; Evolutionary economics; Path-dependence and lock-in; Environmental pressures;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:sol:wpaper:08-028. 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: (Benoit Pauwels). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/cebulbe.html .

    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 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.

    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.