Economic Growth: Our modern day religion?

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The Mint Magazine
Published at : 12 Dec 2020
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For around half a century ecological economists such as Herman Daly have been seeking to win over the economics profession to the recognition that the economy is a subsystem of the environment – and thus that economic growth is subject to inescapable limits. But despite both increasingly alarming environmental signals and increasing signs of secular stagnation in advanced economies, the goal of ongoing growth remains a fixture of our politics.

 In this talk Richard Douglas drew on his research at the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity to suggest that one reason for our social attachment to growth is the way it functions as a modern form of theodicy. He argued that the prospects for steady state or degrowth economics hang on the development of a replacement for growth as a religiously fulfilling view of our collective future.

Richard is carrying out research at the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity(CUSP) on the ‘Meaning of Growth’. Beginning with the question why society remains so attached to the idea of indefinite growth in the face of environmental limits, his research attempts to trace the roots of this idea back to the theological heritage of the modern age.

Richard is associate editor of the journal Renewal, and has written for a variety of journals and magazines, as well as a book, Future Ethics(2010). Prior to beginning his PhD (at Goldsmiths, University of London), he has worked as a committee specialist at the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, a senior analyst at the National Audit Office, been a national lay rep for the PCS Union, and contributed to the Prince of Wales’ Accounting for Sustainability project.
Economic growthReligionLimits to growth

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