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The Political Economy of Sustainability

Fred P. Gale, Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania, Australia
This theoretical and practical book builds on the knowledge that sustainability’s value pluralism cannot be reconciled with the value monism of classical, neoclassical, nationalist or socialist political economy. Developing the concept of sustainability value (SV), which requires integrating economic (exchange), social (labour), environmental (intrinsic) and cultural (use) values in all processes of extraction, manufacturing, trade, consumption and disposal, the book reformulates our understanding of key political economy topics such as trade, investment, preference formation, corporate governance and the role of the state. The book illustrates how SV is being realised via multi-stakeholder networks which, forming at the community, national and global levels, enable the required cross-value deliberation.
Extent: 304 pp
Hardback Price: $135.00 Web: $121.50
Publication Date: 2018
ISBN: 978 1 78536 800 4
Availability: In Stock
Paperback Price: $47.95 Web: $38.36
Publication Date: 2019
ISBN: 978 1 78536 802 8
Availability: In Stock
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  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Environmental Politics and Policy
  • Political Economy
Innovatively rethinking the discipline of political economy, Fred P. Gale builds on a range of contemporary examples to develop a pluralistic conception of sustainability value that underpins sustainable development. He identifies why current approaches are having no meaningful impact and unifies diverse perspectives into one integrative approach.

This definitive work argues that sustainability value’s realization requires a complete rethink of the way firms and polities are governed, challenging the idea that preferences are rational. Treating sustainability value as supervening on four other elemental economic values, the book illustrates how ‘tetravaluation’ is being partially realized at the level of the firm and the state. With vast differences in institutional requirements across conventional liberal, nationalist and socialist frameworks, Gale implores political economy to abandon its monistic modernist legacy and embrace the pluralistic, reflexive and interdisciplinary standpoint that sustainability demands.

With striking implications for existing political, economic and cultural institutions, Gale offers a new perspective on generating better policy outcomes for public policy professionals and sustainability practitioners. This book is a must-read for public policy theorists, political and ecological economists, and environmental policy researchers, as Gale challenges the conventional ideas linked to the functioning of liberal democracy and explores the future of political economic thought.
‘Gale’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in the complex history and multi-faceted nature of value and valuation. It develops a pluralistic, transdisciplinary conception of “sustainability value” as the synthesis of different forms of usefulness, including exchange, use, labour and function value. It will help to build the transdisciplinary bridges so critical to solving our current problems and creating a sustainable and desirable future.’
– Robert Costanza, The Australian National University
Contents: 1. Introduction 2. Economic Value in Political Economic Thought 3. Economic Value in Environmental Thought 4. Deriving Sustainability Value from Sustainable Development 5. Measures of Sustainability Value 6. Governing Business for Sustainability Value 7. Governing the Polity for Sustainability Value 8. Governing Preferences for Sustainability Value 9. Conclusion: Getting to Sustainability Value References Index