Ecological economics has ontological foundations that inform it as a paradigm both biophysically and socially. It stands in strong opposition to mainstream thought on the operations of the economy and society. The core arguments deconstruct and oppose both growth and price-making market paradigms. However, in contradiction of these theoretical foundations, ecological economists can be found who call upon neoclassical economic theory as insightful, price-making and capitalist markets as socially justified means of allocation and economic growth as achieving progress and development. The more radical steady-state and post-growth/degrowth movements are shown to include confused and conflicted stances in relation to the mainstream hegemonic paradigms. Ecological economics personally challenges those trained in mainstream theory to move beyond their orthodox education and leave behind the flawed theories and concepts that contribute to supporting systems that create social, ecological and economic crises. This paper makes explicit the paradigmatic struggle of the past thirty years and the need to wipe away mainstream apologetics, pragmatic conformity and ill-conceived postmodern pluralism. It details the core paradigmatic conflict and specifies the alternative social ecological economic paradigm along with a new research agenda.
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