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RSS FeedsSustainability, Vol. 12, Pages 1537: The Political Economy of Sustainability (Sustainability)


18 february 2020 22:00:20

Sustainability, Vol. 12, Pages 1537: The Political Economy of Sustainability (Sustainability)

Sustainability is a “contested” concept introduced at the beginning of the 18th century in German forestry circles concerned about sustainable harvests and rebranded in 1987 as “sustainable development” by the Brundtland Report, which defined it as harmonious economic, social, and ecological development that enhances both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations. However, after more than three decades of sustainable development, humanity is on an unsustainable path featuring rampant ecosystem damage, rising social inequality, and harmful cultural homogenization. This paper is a book review of Fred P. Gale’s Political Economy of Sustainability, a book published in 2018 by Edward Elgar Publishers. The book advances the innovative idea that the current lack of progress in implementation of the sustainable development goals is due to the narrow understanding by individuals, firms, states, and political parties of the values underlying sustainability. The book thus starts a much-needed conversation about economic values, a conversation ousted from the neo-classical economics discipline in the late 19th century by the marginalist thinkers who wanted to make it a positive science. The book identifies four elemental economic values—exchange value, labor value, use value, and function value—and argues that basing our socio-economic and political development on only one type of value with the exclusion of the others has led to the current dangerously unsustainable path humankind is on. Achieving sustainability value requires a balanced integration of all four types of values in all deliberations about socio-economic activities. How can this be accomplished? The author proposes a pragmatic solution in the form of a “tetravaluation” process, a dialogue involving multiple value holders able to reflexively negotiate and compromise until the pluralistic sustainability value is discovered and accepted by all the parties. The book challenges the unsustainable functioning of existing economic, political, and cultural institutions and invites a rethinking of their governance, which should deliberately embrace the pluralistic value of sustainability. The tetravaluation process has the potential to generate sustainable choices and inform better policy decisions able to protect at the same time the proponents of exchange value (consumers), the promoters of labor value (workers, producers), the beneficiaries of use value (communities), and the holder of functional values (the environment). Digg Facebook Google StumbleUpon Twitter
11 viewsCategory: Ecology
Sustainability, Vol. 12, Pages 1539: Joint Decision on Pricing and Ordering for Omnichannel BOPS Retailers: Considering Online Returns (Sustainability)
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