Green Political Economy: beyond orthodox undifferentiated economic growth as a permanent feature of the economy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter outlines the main features of green political economy and the principal ways in which it differs from dominant mainstream or orthodox neoclassical economics. Neoclassical economics is critiqued on the grounds of denying its normative and ideological commitments in its false presentation of itself as ‘objective’ and ‘value neutral’. It is also critiqued for its ecologically irrational commitment to the imperative of orthodox economic growth as a permanent feature of the economy, compromising its ability to offer realistic or normatively compelling guides to how we might make the transition to a sustainable economy. Green political economy is presented as an alternative or heterodox form of economic thinking but one which explicitly expresses its normative/ideological value bases (hence it represents a return to ‘political economy’, the origins of modern economics). Green political economy also challenges the commitment to undifferentiated economic growth as a permanent objective of the human economy. In its place, green political economy promotes ‘economic security’ as a better objective for a sustainable, post-growth economy. The latter includes the transition to a low-carbon energy economy, and is also one which maximises quality of life (as oppose to formal employment, income and wealth), and actively seeks to lower socio-economic inequality. Green political economy views orthodox economic growth as having passed the threshold in most ‘advanced’ capitalist societies beyond which it has undermined quality of life and at best manages rather than reduces socially and ecologically damaging inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Environmental Political Theory
EditorsTeena Gabrielson, Cheryl Hall, John Meyer, David Schlosberg
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusAccepted - 2015

Publication series

NameOxford Handbook
PublisherOxford University Press


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