Research Handbook on Democracy and Development
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Research Handbook on Democracy and Development

Edited by Gordon Crawford and Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai

Exploring and updating the controversial debates about the relationship between democracy and development, this Research Handbook provides clarification on the complex and nuanced interlinkages between political regime type and socio-economic development. Distinguished scholars examine a broad range of issues from multidisciplinary perspectives across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
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Chapter 28: Democracy, ideological orientation and sustainable development

Peter Söderbaum


Present development is unsustainable in important respects for example in relation to some of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Climate change, biological diversity and pollution of soil and water are examples. Also the health of populations of human beings are threatened and affected. Can a strengthened democracy contribute to progress in relation to the SDGs? In the present article it is argued that issues of values, ethics, ideology and even justice need to be discussed more openly. One observation is that the conceptual framework and discipline of economics plays a crucial role in public dialogue about development issues and that there is a monopoly position for neoclassical theory with its specific ideological content in university departments of economics. A more pluralist economics, that is an economics compatible with democracy, where institutional ecological economics is just one among alternatives, would represent an important step forward in strengthening democracy and hopefully improving performance in relation to the 17 SDGs.

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