Version 3.2

Modern economics as male-dominated thought construct to support colonial hegemony – and the implications for degrowth thought and policy advice

This paper establishes that modern economics uses a male-dominated methodology that is intrinsically colonialist. It then proceeds to answer the question “What is degrowth learning from anticolonial struggles on how to change dominant narratives on rights, freedom, economy, care and nature?”
The starting point is a comparison of the main fundamental research methodologies. It is shown that modern economics is based on a specific methodology, and a specific set of canonical assumptions configured almost 200 years ago in order to achieve specific aims that will later be shown to be colonial. This unchanged canonical set of assumptions is shown to be unambiguously male dominated.
The implications of this methodology and canonical set of assumptions results in specific policy implications for economic development policy, industrial policy and international trade, namely to have no development policy, engage in no industrial policy and adopt free market and free trade policies. This set of policy recommendations was favourable at the time (19th century) to the nation where these theories were developed (UK), which was the leading economic, industrial and military power. However, such policies are shown to prevent economic development in less developed countries and hence establish enduring hegemony over the majority of countries in the world and prevent their development. Thus modern economics has been intrinsically colonialist in its design, application and outcomes: today the developing countries remain dependent and in a position of submission to the industrial powers.
The second half of the paper shows the links and implications to degrowth thought and policies. To do this, first the concept of growth itself is discussed and its relationship with nature, finite resource constraints and ecology. Next the concept of long-term sustainability is examined. Then, the link between economic growth and long-term sustainability is worked out. Based on this, the implications for degrowth theory and policy are derived. This results in new impetus for policy implications and the need for activism and further education of fellow researchers and scientists, but also the general public.


Day: 2023-08-31
Start time: 12:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: ZV-KC-2
Type: Paper Presentation
Theme: Feminist, decolonial, anti-racist and anti-ableist ecologies


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