ECO crisis GROWTH Macroeconomic narratives in a world of crises by Emil Urhammer & Inge Røpke
Ecological Economics October 2013
An analysis of stories about solving the system crisis
Since the financial crisis in 2008, a series of publications on macroeconomic responses to the compound crises of the economy and the environment have emerged. Under labels such as green new deal, green growth and the great
transition, attempts at offering coherent responses to the crises have been made. These responses have in common that they all present a large number of policy proposals for ways in which to solve the current crises and achieve a
sustainable economy. This article provides a mapping of a selection of such responses and an analysis of their content. The analysis combines discourse theory and narrative analysis and investigates discourses by studying the narratives they produce. The study thus contributes to the long line of analyses on discourses on sustainable economy: empirically, by investigating and analysing a number of macroeconomic proposals for solving the system
crisis, and theoretically, by elaborating on the concept of narrative dynamics in relation to persuasive strength in political decision-making.
Keywords: System crisis, ecological macroeconomics, discourses, narratives, narrative dynamics, persuasive strength
The first approach suggests what we see as a reconfiguration of the current global economy, while the latter implies a total transformation of the global economic system. The feasibility of decoupling is strongly challenged by the proponents of the latter approach (Jackson 2009), and we suggest that these two opposing conceptions have led to the emergence of two different discourses as regards the dilemma of growth; here, we characterise these as a pro-growth and a no-growth discourse, respectively. The latter approach fits in with the basic ideas of ecological economics, but until recently, ecological economists have contributed relatively little to macroeconomic research and policy development.