Social ecological economics: Understanding the past to see the future

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


The attempt to provide insight into the interactions between the economy and the environment has been an on-going struggle for many decades. The rise of Ecological Economics can be seen as a positive step towards integrating social and natural science understanding by a movement that aims to go beyond the confines of mainstream economics towards a progressive political economy of the environment. However, this vision has not been shared by all those who have associated themselves with Ecological Economics and there has been conflict. An historical analysis is presented that shows the role of mainstream theory in delimiting the field of environmental research. The argument is put forward that rather than employing a purely mechanistic objective empirical methodology there is a need for an integrating interdisciplinarity heterodox economic approach. In order to distinguish this approach—from the more mainstream multidisciplinary linking of unreconstituted ecological and economic models—the name Social Ecological Economics is put forward as expressing the essential socio-economic character of the needed work ahead.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340 - 375
JournalAmerican Journal of Economics and Sociology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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