Stevenson, Hayley (2015). Contemporary discourses of green political economy: A Q method analysis. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning. Online ( X.2015.1118681)

Abstract: For over two decades, the concept of sustainable development has been salient in political discourse. But its promise of reconciling economic development, social welfare, and environmental sustainability has proven rather elusive. In recent years, we’ve seen numerous competing concepts emerge in debates about sustainable economic development. While many advance ideas of a green economy and green growth, others talk about wellbeing, gross national happiness, inclusive wealth, harmony with nature, de-growth, steady-state economy, and buenvivir (living well). This rhetorical diversity shows that there is no single vision for reconciling environmental sustainability and economic development. But the varied terminology itself obscures actual points of agreement and disagreement. This article reports on a bilingual ‘Q study’ of international debates about sustainable economic development. It reveals that three discourses underpin these debates: Radical Transformationism, Cooperative Reformism, and Statist Progressivism. The article dissects these discourses and contextualizes their key points of contention in wider sustainability debates over the past two decades.

Hayley Stevenson <> is in the Department of Politics, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.

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