Table of Contents

The Elgar Companion to Social Economics, Second Edition

The Elgar Companion to Social Economics, Second Edition

Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma

Social economics is a dynamic and growing field that emphasizes the key roles social values play in the economy and economic life. This second edition of the Elgar Companion to Social Economics revises all chapters from the first edition, and adds important new chapters to reflect the expansion and development of social economics. The expert contributions explain a wide range of recent developments across different subject areas and topics in the field, mapping out possible directions of future social economic research. Social economics treats the economy and economics as embedded in a web of social and ethical relationships. It considers economics and ethics as essentially connected, and adds values such as justice, fairness, dignity, well-being, freedom, and equality to the standard emphasis on efficiency. This book will be a leading resource and guide to social economics for many years to come.

Chapter 1: Environment and sustainability

Jouni Paavola and Inge Røpke

Subjects: business and management, business ethics and trust, economics and finance, institutional economics, methodology of economics, public sector economics, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy


Many central concerns of social economics, such as embeddedness, plural values and social justice, are highly pertinent to environment and sustainability. Somewhat paradoxically, there has been relatively little research on environment and sustainability in the core social-economics research community. But this is not to say that social-economics research on the environment and sustainability does not exist. This research has just been mostly carried out by scholars identifying themselves with ecological economics or political ecology. Our chapter sets this scholarship in its broader context and examines in some detail some of its core research strands. In what follows, we will first briefly discuss how we understand social economics, how it has related to the emerging agenda of research on the environment, and how that research has become institutionalized. We will then examine in somewhat greater detail two areas of environmental research where social economics plays a significant role: the research on institutional sources of environmental problems; and the research on monetary valuation and environmental decision making. We conclude the chapter with a brief assessment of the likely future agenda for social-economic research on environment and sustainability.