The growth paradigm

History, hegemony, and the contested making of economic growthmanship

Authored by: Matthias Schmelzer

Routledge Handbook of the History of Sustainability

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138685796
eBook ISBN: 9781315543017
Adobe ISBN:


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The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has proclaimed that “[f]or a good portion of the 20th century there was an implicit assumption that economic growth was synonymous with progress: an assumption that a growing gross domestic product (GDP) meant life must be getting better.” 1 Indeed, the dominance of the growth imperative is hard to ignore: Growth statistics regularly appear on the front pages of newspapers, play a key role in economic analyses, and pervade political debates, not only across the political spectrum but also in all countries. Since these numbers have come to form our very language, it seems almost impossible to think about economic issues without referring to GDP and its proxies. The recent global economic crisis has conspicuously demonstrated how dependent capitalist economies are on growth and how even minor reductions in growth rates were received with almost religious disappointment. 2

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