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Crisis in the habitat of the economic growth monster

Emil Urhammer (PhD fellow, Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University Copenhagen, Denmark)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 23 September 2014




The purpose of the paper is to offer a new view on economic growth and use this view to add to the explanation of economic growth as a powerful agent that determines policies regarding urgent issues such as climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution.


The study is based on analysis of scholarship and media, interviews and observations in a multi-sited ethnography of economic growth.


The article argues that the circulation of economic growth has contributed to a shaping of institutions and language to an extent where environmental policy proposals framed as harmful to economic growth can easily be rejected. Furthermore, the article offers an operationalisation of the term ecologisation by promoting a new inclusive language in decision-making.


The paper fills a gap in literature by offering an empirical philosophical take on economic growth and by offering a suggestion for the operationalisation of the term ecologisation.



The author thanks two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on an earlier version of this article. The author also thanks Inge Røpke, Andreas Birkbak, Torben Elgaard Jensen and Dan O’Neill for useful comments and references. The research was conducted with support from The Velux Foundation.


Urhammer, E. (2014), "Crisis in the habitat of the economic growth monster", On the Horizon, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 308-317.



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