- Wolfgang Hoeschele, Truman State University - Missouri, USA
- Series : Gower Green Economics and Sustainable Growth Series
No matter how many resources we consume we never seem to have enough. The Economics of Abundance is a balanced book in which Wolfgang Hoeschele challenges why this is so. He claims that our current capitalist economy can exist only on the basis of manufactured scarcity created by 'scarcity-generating institutions', and these institutions manipulate both demand and supply of commodities. Therefore demand consistently exceeds supply, and profits and economic growth can continue – at the cost of individual freedom, social equity, and ecological sustainability. The fact that continual increases in demand are so vital to our economy leads to an impasse: many people see no alternative to the generation of ever more demand, but at the same time recognize that it is clearly unsustainable ecologically and socially.
So, can demand only be reduced by curtailing freedom and is this acceptable? This book argues that, by analyzing how scarcity-generating institutions work and then reforming or dismantling them, we can enhance individual freedom and support entrepreneurial initiative, and at the same time make progress toward social justice and environmental sustainability by reducing demands on vital resources. This vision would enable activists in many fields (social justice, civil liberties, and environmental protection), as well as many entrepreneurs and other members of civil society to work together much more effectively, make it more difficult to portray all these groups as contradictory special interests, and thereby help generate momentum for positive change. Meanwhile, for academics in many fields of study, the concept of the creation of scarcity or abundance may be a highly useful analytical tool.
Contents: Preface; The paradox of our times. Part I The Production of Scarcity: Oppressive scarcities; Exploitative scarcities; The creation of needs; A global geography of scarcity; Systems of control. Part II Paths Towards Abundance: The art of living; Resource-use rights; Reclaiming self-reliance and cooperation. Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Wolfgang Hoeschele received his BA in biology and art from the College of Wooster in Ohio (1987), his MS in environmental science from Washington State University (1990), and his Ph.D. in geography from the Pennsylvania State University (1998). Since 1998, he has been teaching geography at Truman State University in Missouri. He has done research on land degradation in southern India, on devising a classification system for countries in the world economy, and on reconceptualizing scarcity. He is currently engaged in studying how the concepts of the economics of abundance may be applied in urban contexts.
Reviews: 'In this wide-ranging work of pluralist and critical political economy, Wolfgang Hoeschele deploys an analysis of the manufacture of scarcity to develop a comprehensive critique of contemporary capitalist society. While building on a broad tradition of critique this book offers an original and innovative approach: scarcity while often at the centre of political economic analysis frequently remains un-examined; this serious lacunae is comprehensively remedied by Hoeschele. This work's focus on scarcity is balanced and complemented by a discussion of the creation of abundance (material and spiritual) as a political project of alternative development. This confirms that excellent critical work cannot only criticise but must offer a plausible alternative path.' Christopher May, Professor of Political Economy, Lancaster University
‘Hoeschele superbly exposes the anatomy of scarcity that capitalism must constantly produce in order to be, and does so by masterfully generating desire for unneeded things. But he also offers a surprisingly feasible possibility to change our world of scarcity and unsustainable growth into the world of abundance and justice to nature and ourselves. A very timely and imaginative book.’ Marianna Pavlovskaya, Associate Professor of Geography, Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center
'...this is economics that provokes and questions. It’s a bold thought experiment that opens up new possibilities at a time when we desperately need them. The Economics of Abundance is the first in the new Green Economics and Sustainable Growth Series. If the rest of the series lives up to the this one, it’ll be an intriguing new discussion.
‘The diagnosis is certainly provocative, in turning the mainstream economics on its head. The prescriptions are surprisingly grounded and range across institutional reform, community action and political strategy. By way of a caveat, it must be stressed that this is principally a reform strategy, reflected in the somewhat rosy-eyed view of markets, commodification and self-help. Yet reform need not be retrograde and, in fact, may initiate a generative process that can produce rolling social change. Indeed, it may be said that many of the proposals outlined in The Economics of Abundance have just this character.’
Urban Studies, Vol 49/14
Extracts from this title are available to view:
Full contents list
Chapter 2 - Oppressive scarcities