Inderscience Publishers

The clash between economics and ecology: frames and schemas

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Courtesy of Inderscience Publishers

The central problem of the clash between economics and ecology is a clash of what psychologists call 'frames'. Frames are the set of values, norms, assumptions and theories we use to understand, even describe a situation. It is now recognised that one of the most important sources of intractable conflicts is a difference in frames between the participants. Ecology is about systems, complex systems whose properties cannot be predicted from its components. Conventional economics is about individual economic actors. It does not even see systems. We need a different frame for economics. But frame changes are often best accomplished one step at a time. A framework which allows the emphasis on mathematics beloved of economics but which is also readable for the wider membership of the green movement is network analysis. It allows us to describe, mathematically, complex emergent systems, and yet graphically illustrates the flow of money and resources around the economy, just like water flowing through pipes. It reveals where money and resources end up and how the system sucks ever more resources in.

Keywords: intractable conflict, framing, schemas, economic psychology, green economics, ecology, frames, network analysis

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