Research on consumption from an environmental perspective has exploded since the late 1990s. This important new volume cuts across disciplines to present the latest research in the field. The book is divided into three parts, the first of which addresses the problems of consumption both as a concept and as an economic and social force with high environmental impact.
This journal article by Radhika Desai, Professor at the Department of Political Studies, and Director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, was originally published in 2010 and republished in an revised format in 2020. The article is a comprehensive treatment of Marx's theory of crisis, focusing on the role of consumption demand in capitalism and in the emergence of crises.
What influence do changes in tax policy or state decisions on expenditure have on economic growth? For decades, this question has been controversially debated.
Institutional economics focuses on the role of social institutions in terms of laws or contracts, but also those of social norms and patterns of human behaviour that are connected to the social organisation of production, distribution and consumption in the economy.
For many social critics "globalization" is a signpost of “late-capitalism” with the rise of multinational corporations, mass consumption and the multidirectional flows of capital, labor, media, communication, ideologies and social movements across national borders. Feminist analyses of globalization and the gendered and sexualized permutations of these phenomena offer a critical stance for theorizing these processes, and for studying their complex articulations across time and space.
How should we discuss welfare when understanding the role of growth and the viability of Growth-led development? One option is to look at subjective happiness. This provides an anti-materialistic view which may superficially appear more compatible with significant reductions in consumption in order to remain within safe ecological limits.
This book analyzes the transition of chocolate from an exotic curiosity to an Atlantic commodity. It shows how local, inter-regional, and Atlantic markets interacted with one another and with imperial political economies. It explains how these interactions, intertwined with the resilience of local artisanal production, promoted the partial democratization of chocolate consumption as well as economic growth.
The principle of diminishing marginal utility is explained referring to the diminishing relevance (or usefulness) of uses that people will direct an extra unit of a homogenous good to. Then the opportunity cost of holding a certain amount of money in relation to the possession of a good is explored. From this assessment, the market process is explained in terms of the "double inequality" of value, where seller and buyer have different subjective values attached to the good in question and to money, which leads to an exchange. If prices are not enabling exchange the laws of supply and demand will make prices converge. The prices of non-consumption goods and services are calculated backwards from consumer prices by entrepreneurs.
With this calculator you can assess the ecological backpack of your lifestyle. The ecological backpack visualizes the weight of all natural raw materials that are needed for our private consumption behavior. This includes all products and their production, use, and disposal.
Andrew McAfee about the history of human progress and the modern uncoupling of our prosperity from resource consumption. They discuss the pitfalls and hidden virtues of capitalism, technological progress, environmental policy, the future of the developing world, and other topics.
Firms are the primary places where economic activity takes place in modern capitalist economies: they are where most stuff is produced; where many of us spend 40 hours a week; and where big decisions are made about how to allocate resources. Establishing how they work is hugely important because it helps us to understand patterns of production and consumption, including how firms will react to changes in economic conditions and policy. And a well-established literature – led by post-Keynesians and institutionalists – holds that the best way to determine how firms work is to…wait for it...ask firms how they work. This a clearly sensible proposition that is contested in economics for some reason, but we’ll ignore the controversy here and just explore the theory that springs from this approach.
The European economic crisis from 2007 onwards in the context of a global crisis of over-production of capital - a Marxian monetary theory of value interpretation
This paper attempts to clarify how the European economic crisis from 2007 onwards can be understood from the perspective of a Marxian monetary theory of value that emphasizes intrinsic, structural flaws regarding capitalist reproduction. Chapter two provides an empirical description of the European economic crisis, which to some extent already reflects the structural theoretical framework presented in chapter three. Regarding the theoretical framework Michael Heinrich's interpretation of 'the' Marxian monetary theory of value will be presented. Heinrich identifies connections between production and realization, between profit and interest rate as well as between industrial and fictitious capital, which represent contradictory tendencies for which capitalism does not have simple balancing processes. In the context of a discussion of 'structural logical aspects' of Marx's Critique of the Political Economy, explanatory deficits of Heinrich's approach are analyzed. In the following, it is argued that Fred Moseley's view of these 'structural logical aspects' allows empirical 'applications' of Marxian monetary theories of value. It is concluded that a Marxian monetary theory of value, with the characteristics of expansive capital accumulation and its limitations, facilitates a structural analysis of the European economic crisis from 2007 onwards. In this line of argument, expansive production patterns are expressed, among other things, in global restructuring processes, while consumption limitations are mitigated by expansive financial markets and shifts in ex-port destinations.
Keynes, following the tradition of Marx, argued that all values are created by labour and profits. However, functional income distribution between wages and profits is explained differently. In Marx's explanation of functional income distribution, wages are given as a basket of goods needed for the reproduction needs of the working class. Profits are then the remaining part of income creation. Given the capital stock, the profit rate can be calculated. The paper shows that Marx's explanation of functional income distribution has several theoretical and practical shortcomings. The Keynesian paradigm in the tradition of the original Keynes provides an alternative. Here the profit rate is given by processes in the financial market, and, among other things, by the interest rate. Monopolistic or oligopolistic structures, following the tradition of Kalecki, can also influence the profit rate. In addition, financialisation can push up the profit rate. Given the capital stock the consumption basket of workers depends on the level of productivity and the profit rate explained in a Keynesian and Kaleckian way.
"Energy issues have always been important in international relations, but in recent years may have become even more important than in the past due to the widespread awareness of existing limits to energy sources and negative climate impacts. The course discusses global trends in energy consumption and production, various available scenarios for potential developments in the coming decades, the availability of oil reserves and the evolution of the oil industry. It then discusses natural gas and highlights the differences between oil and gas. It will also discuss renewable energy sources, nuclear energy and EU energy policy. The course aims at providing students whose main interest is in international relations a background on energy resources, technology and economic realities to allow them to correctly interpret the political impact of current developments. It also aims at providing students, who already have a technical background in energy science or engineering, with the broad global view of energy issues that will allow them to better understand the social, economic and political impact of their technical knowledge."
The concept "imperial mode of living" questions the persistence of the capitalist mode of production and why this dominant mode of production has become so deeply ingrained in Western societies' everyday practices, consumption and lifestyle choices and institutional settings.
Dependency in Central and Eastern Europe - Self-reliance and the need to move beyond economic growth
In this essay, the author takes a critical perspective on the pursuit of growth as the solution for providing for environmental sustainability and economic stability in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Drawing from the framework of dependency theory and presenting brief insights into European core-periphery relations the author then argues for the implementation of an alternative strategy to development that is built around the concept of self-reliance.
In this essay, the principle of capital accumulation, as well as the idea of homo economicus as the basis of the growth model, are located and analyzed from a feminist perspective. The sufficiency approach is presented as an alternative to these two economic logics.
In this essay the authors take a look at how welfare could be provided in a degrowth society.
The Great Recession 2.0 is unfolding before our very eyes. It is still in its early phase. But dynamics have been set in motion that are not easily stopped, or even slowed. If the virus effect were resolved by early summer—as some politicians wishfully believe—the economic dynamics set in motion would still continue. The US and global economies have been seriously ‘wounded’ and will not recover easily or soon. Those who believe it will be a ‘V-shape’ recovery are deluding themselves. Economists among them should know better but are among the most confused. They only need to look at historical parallels to convince themselves otherwise.
Austrian economics focuses on the economic coordination of individuals in a market economy. Austrian economics emphasises individualism, subjectivism, laissez-faire politics, uncertainty and the role of the entrepreneur, amongst others.
Post-Keynesians focus on the analysis of capitalist economies, perceived as highly productive, but unstable and conflictive systems. Economic activity is determined by effective demand, which is typically insufficient to generate full employment and full utilisation of capacity.
In this essay the authors argue for a wider concept of care work that includes community building, civic engagement and environmental activism. On the basis of the case of Cargonomia, a grassroot initiative in Budapest, they show that such a wider concept of care work could allow for different narratives that promote sustainable lifestyles with a milder environmental and social impact on the planet and its communities.
This essay suggests to bring together two aspects of economic thought which so far have developed largely separately: degrowth and feminist economics. In this strive, the concept of care work and its role in feminist economics will be introduced and the downsides of the commodification of care work will be discussed. Subsequently, contributions to the discussion on the (re)valuation of care work will be taken into account.
Due to the economic crisis of 2008/2009, households faced drastic decreases in their incomes, the availability of jobs. Additionally, the structure of the labour market changed, while austerity measures and public spending cuts left households with less support and safeguards provided by the state. How have these developments affected the burden of unpaid labour and what influence did this have on gender relations?
As opposed to the conventional over-simplified assumption of self-interested individuals, strong evidence points towards the presence of heterogeneous other-regarding preferences in agents. Incorporating social preferences – specifically, trust and reciprocity - and recognizing the non-constancy of these preferences across individuals can help models better represent the reality.
Marxian Political Economy focuses on the exploitation of labour by capital. The economy is not conceived as consisting of neutral transactions for exchange and cooperation, but instead as having developed historically out of asymmetric distributions of power, ideology and social conflicts.
It is perhaps fitting that the seriousness of the coronavirus threat hit most of the Western world around the Ides of March, the traditional day of reckoning of outstanding debts in Ancient Rome. After all, problems and imbalances have accumulated in the Western capitalist system over four decades, ostensibly since it took the neoliberal road out of the 1970s crisis and kept going along it, heedless of the crises and problems it led to.
Environmental catastrophe looms large over politics: from the young person’s climate march to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, increasing amounts of political space are devoted to the issue. Central to this debate is the question of whether economic growth inevitably leads to environmental issues such as depleted finite resources and increased waste, disruption of natural cycles and ecosystems, and of course climate change. Growth is the focal point of the de-growth and zero-growth movements who charge that despite efficiency gains, increased GDP always results in increased use of energy and emissions. On the other side of the debate, advocates of continued growth (largely mainstream economists) believe that technological progress and policies can ‘decouple’ growth from emissions.
This article by Rüdiger Bachmann et.al. discusses the economic effects of a potential cut-off of the German economy from Russian energy imports.
In 18th century Europe figures such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Friedrich List and Jean Baptiste Colbert developed theories regarding international trade, which either embraced free trade seeing it as a positive sum game or recommended more cautious and strategic approaches to trade seeing it as a potential danger and a rivalry and often as a zero-sum game. What about today?
This essay deals with the concepts of Sustainable Land Management (SLM) and Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).
How can we establish new institutions and practices in order to use fare-free public transport as a beacon for sustainable mobility and a low-carbon lifestyle? The author of this essay elaborates on how practice theory and institutional economics can help to answer this question.