Crisis, Innovation and Sustainable Development
Show Less

Crisis, Innovation and Sustainable Development

The Ecological Opportunity

Edited by Blandine Laperche, Nadine Levratto and Dimitri Uzunidis

This unique and informative book highlights the relationship between crisis, innovation, and sustainable development, and discusses the necessary conditions required to seize the ecological opportunity. The authors study the strength of change for building a new society, and the theoretical origins and political aspects of environmental concerns. They also sketch the outlines of a global governance system seeking to promote sustainable development.
Buy Book in Print
Show Summary Details
You do not have access to this content

Chapter 6: Economic Theories, Environmental Issues and History of Thought

Sophie Boutillier and Patrick Matagne


Sophie Boutillier and Patrick Matagne INTRODUCTION For a lot of economists and intellectuals, ecological economics was born during the 1960s (Costanza, 1989; Ropke, 2004). However, the roots of this field of research are deeper. Since the nineteenth century, and even before (during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries), scientists (economists and naturalists especially) have developed compelling thoughts about the effects of economic activity on nature (about pollution and resource depletion). Of course, this reflection takes places in a particular historic context marked by the industrial revolution. This chapter provides a historical perspective about the background history of thought to ecological economics. The birth of political economics is commonly linked to the publication in 1776 of The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1723–90), the founder of the Classical School (Boutillier, 2003). Before that publication, economic thought already existed but it remained closely linked to ethics and philosophy and most of all, to global political power (‘l’économie du Prince’, defended by the mercantilists). Since that publication, the market has clearly been considered as the ideal kind of economic organization, though ‘laisser-faire, laisser-passer’ was not a classical but a physiocratic principle. The main issue of classical economics is the production of wealth. How do nations become wealthy? According to Smith, wealth is the result of labour. Once that principle has been set, its organization should be optimized in order to increase productivity by dividing and simplifying tasks. By asking how wealth could be produced, economists then adopted an active and wilful...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information

or login to access all content.