Political economy of the environment in the century of ecological crises

Authored by: Éloi Laurent , Klara Zwickl

The Routledge Handbook of the Political Economy of the Environment

Print publication date:  October  2021
Online publication date:  October  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367410704
eBook ISBN: 9780367814533
Adobe ISBN:


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Before the 20th century, economics was not understood as a distinct discipline from political science. In fact, the most influential economic theorists of the late 18th and 19th century – including Adam Smith, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Marx – considered themselves as political economists, emphasizing that, because economic and political processes and outcomes are closely connected, they should be studied jointly. The term “political economy” is said to have originated in France in the 17th century, a time and place where the role of the state in shaping national economies was decisive. The first book titled Traité d’économie politique was published by French mercantilist Antoine de Montchrétien in 1615, though some evidence points towards an even earlier use of the expression (Groenewegen, 1991).

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