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Forbidden question : a history of the limits to growth debate

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Higgs, KA (2012) Forbidden question : a history of the limits to growth debate. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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whole_HiggsKerr...pdf | Document not available for request/download
Full text restricted
Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.

Abstract

This thesis investigates the history of the debate about the limits to economic
growth. It asks how it came about that the emerging concerns of natural scientists
and physical modellers were scorned by economists and, at least after 1980, largely
ignored by governments and policy-makers world-wide.
The unprecedented character of economic growth in the twentieth century is
examined and its roots, scale and relationship to cheap energy is analysed, as well
as the conflict between the pre-analytic assumptions of the two disciplines most
concerned with the debate-economics and the natural sciences. The increasingly
self-conscious pursuit of economic growth is explored as is the process by which
growth was adopted as the self-evident solution to all social problems, .displacing
ideas about equity and fairness.
It is argued that the newly consolidated corporations that emerged in the US at the
tum of the twentieth century progressively banded together to sell not just their
products but 'free enterprise' itself, a system tied to ever-continuing growth. That
investigation gives rise to a history of corporate ideological campaigns against
organised labour, democratic oversight and government 'interference', especially
regulation and taxation-campaigns readily adapted to resisting environmental
priorities.
The thesis examines how these established techniques-propaganda and the
straightforward buying of influence-were augmented after 1970 by the
construction of a vast research apparatus dedicated to business interests and values,
and designed to exert determinate influence over government policy. Its sources of
funding and expertise are explored. It is argued that this institutional expansion has
been instrumental in naturalising and strengthening the economic paradigm,
'mysteriously' detached from the physical world on which it relies, giving
economists pre-eminent influence within governments and bureaucracies and
turning the pursuit of economic growth into everyday common sense.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2012 the Author

Additional Information:

Available for use in the Library and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2012. Includes bibliographical references

Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2014 02:57
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2016 01:38
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