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Handbook of Global Environmental Politics

Edited by Peter Dauvergne

The first Handbook of original articles by leading scholars of global environmental politics, this landmark volume maps the latest theoretical and empirical research in this young and growing field. Captured here are the dynamic and energetic debates over concerns for the health of the planet and how they might best be addressed.
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Chapter 16: Green Political Economy and the Promise of the Social Economy

John Barry and Graham Smith


John Barry and Graham Smith Green political economy is a relatively new area of study, arising as it has over the last two decades in response to increasing levels of global and local environmental degradation, and other social and economic consequences of a ‘neoliberal’ economic agenda (both within the academy and politics and policy making).1 While much of green political economy thinking has been focused on developing critiques of this neoliberal agenda as an explicit ideological project (Barry, 1999a; Jacobs, 1999; Mulberg, 1992), usually as part of a broader green political critique, this (necessary) critical focus has not been balanced by a positive and reconstructive programme. The aim of this chapter is primarily reconstructive, in that we concentrate on the positive and transformative potential of green political economy both in theory and in practice. The overarching objective of the chapter is to outline some of the key political, economic and normative features of green political economy, which makes this body of critical knowledge distinctive and politically radical in comparison to the orthodox economic models which currently dominate both the discipline of economics and economic policy making, including environmental policy making (Barry, 1999a). The chapter begins with a discussion of the current state of green political economy, arguing that much of the debate about the putative ‘greening of the economy’ revolves around the defence and critique of ecological modernization. Although this is the site of much significant analysis, it is our belief that the almost hegemonic position of ecological...

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