Edited by Joan Martínez-Alier and Roldan Muradian
Chapter 7: Modeling a non-growing economy: an autobiographical note
The 1960s stand out for many reasons. The coming of age of the post-World War II baby boomers had a remarkable influence on music and politics, both of which thrived on university campuses around the world, especially in the West. Keynesianism, as represented in textbooks such as Samuelson’s ubiquitous Economics, dominated macroeconomics and came to rival microeconomics for popularity in the degree programs offered in departments of economics. I was a student of economics in those days, enjoying a first class training in the subject at universities in the UK and Canada. When the time came to choose a topic for my doctoral dissertation, I resisted the fashion of the day, which was to run regressions using the newly available power of IBM mainframe computers. Instead I sought to understand the relationships between economies and the social and natural systems in which they are embedded. This required a different perspective on economics rather than statistical testing of hypothesized relationships drawn from economic theory. My dissertation was published as a book (Victor, 1972), the second paragraph of which begins: ‘Taking the view, then, that economic activity is a part of human society, and that in turn, society itself is only a subset of the phenomena that constitute the universe, the focus of this study will be the connections between human society and the rest of the universe that are attributable to economic activity’ (ibid.: 17–18).
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