Strategies of a Green Economy, Contours of a Green Capitalism. Sociology Meets Political Economy

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Ulrich BRAND, University of Vienna / Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Austria
Markus WISSEN, University of Business and Law Berlin, Germany
In recent years, a re-politicization of the ecological crisis has taken place in the global North. It is our argument in this paper that the various strategies pursued under the Green Economy umbrella are in the process of establishing what may develop into a new capitalist formation, potentially taking the place of the crisis-ridden post-Fordist-neoliberal formation. For this eventual formation we propose from a critical perspective the label of Green Capitalism. The question, then, is how the processes of change set in motion by Green Economy strategies, and potentially leading to a Green Capitalism, can be understood and explained. Which strategies are politically, economically, and culturally feasible, and under which conditions can they be expected to be successful? We are primarily interested in those processes that may result from a ‘historical chance discovery’, a profound mutation that redefines socio-economic, cultural and political practices, structures and power relations but which in its unfolding will necessarily remain highly uneven, both temporally and spatially. Our theoretical frame is critical Political Economy—we are going to refer to Regulation theory, Gramscian hegemony and critical state theory—supplemented by Political Ecology. The premise is that such a broad theoretical perspective will allow us to address the problems associated with this issue most effectively. Initial research along these lines has addressed the extent to which a green project is feasible and whether a ‘green power bloc’ and potentially forms of ‘green corporatism’ are being established. But beyond that, any social science research seeking to understand the current dynamics of social and socio-ecological transformation must also look at the contradictory socio-economic, political, cultural and subjective social conditions which, in their mutual correlation, will have to be stabilized for a certain period of time to make the project viable.