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Ecological, heterodox and neoclassical economics: investigating the differences

Spash, Clive L. and Ryan, Anthony M. (2010): Ecological, heterodox and neoclassical economics: investigating the differences.

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Abstract

How heterodox are ecological economists and how ecological are heterodox economists? How do both differ, if at all, from neoclassical economists when addressing environmental problems? In 2009 we probed such questions by conducting an international survey at economic conferences on the environment and sustainability. This paper reports on surveys conducted at conferences of the European Society for Ecological Economics, the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economics, and the Association of Heterodox Economists. A key aim was to gain insight into the extent to which ecological economics can be described as a distinct field of research from orthodox environmental and resource economics. Conflict within the field has meant a prevalence of neoclassical articles and thought mixed in amongst more heterodox work. The question then arises are those participating in ecological economics ideologically and methodologically similar to those schools of thought falling under the heterodox economic umbrella or the orthodox? In addressing this question problems are identified with economic understanding of environmental problems and the lack of communication across schools and disciplines. Suggestions are made as to how we might, as a community of concerned scholars and activists, move forward.

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