Ecological Economics in relation to a digital world
Mälardalen University, Västerås, Sweden
Please cite the paper as:
Peter Söderbaum, (2019), Ecological Economics in relation to a digital world, World Economics Association (WEA) Conferences, No. 1 2019, Going Digital, 15th November to 20th December, 2019
The digital revolution has taken place in a social and institutional context dominated by specific conceptual and institutional perspectives. Neoclassical economics and neoliberalism has made monetary profits (in unlimited amounts) and economic growth in GDP-terms legitimate. Today we understand increasingly that sustainable development with the 17 UN sustainable development goals is a partly different idea of progress and ideological orientation.
At issue is now if ecological economics as a different conceptual framework is helpful in understanding and handling this new situation. In the paper elements of ecological economics – including a different definition of economics – are presented. Economics is defined as “multidimensional management of limited resources in a democratic society”. It is argued that value neutrality is an illusion and that values have to be dealt with openly.
The conceptual framework proposed can be applied to any industry, be it the oil industry or the digital industry. It is clear however that the latter industry raises issues of a partly different kind, such as surveillance, privacy and security. Pluralism in economics education and a reconsideration of laws regulating limited reliability corporations are among recommendations. The power positions of globally operating companies deserve increased attention.