Values, ideology and politics in ecological economics

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1 Ecological Economics 28 (1999) TENTH ANNIVERSARY INVITED PAPER Values, ideology and politics in ecological economics Peter Söderbaum Mälardalen Uni ersity, Box 883, Västerås, Sweden Received 16 July 1998; received in revised form 30 November 1998; accepted 2 December 1998 Abstract Ecological economics is built on a value-commitment to study environmental issues and to contribute constructively to a more sustainable development path. However, many ecological economists still hesitate, it appears, to depart too much from other scholars by openly addressing issues of values and ideology. In this essay, the role of the scholar s orientation with respect to values and ideology is addressed. It is observed that not only scholars but also actors in society are guided by their ideological orientation. This leads to the idea that some of the weaknesses of Economic Man and profit maximising firm assumptions can be mitigated by introducing a Political Economic Person and a Political Economic Organisation Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. Keywords: Ideological orientation; Political Economic Person; Political Economic Organisation; Actor; Ideological orientation; Decision-making; Pattern recognition 1. Introduction Ecological economics is on its way to becoming a fairly established field of study. In addition to the Ecological Economics journal with its many issues over past 10 years, there are a number of books referring to conferences held by the International Society for Ecological Economics and the more regional European Society. Attempts have been made to indicate the frontiers in ecological economics (Krishnan et al., 1995; Costanza 1997). We also see the first textbooks that claim to offer the main principles of ecological economics (Costanza et al., 1997). At issue however is what kind of field we are dealing with. Should it be compared to disciplines that claim to refer to established paradigms and where the idea is to add marginally to a fairly established stock of knowledge? Should we aim at homogeneity or should we rather safeguard some degree of heterogeneity? Will we be able to live with some degree of diversity and disagreement? In what follows, I shall argue that ecological economics is not in every respect comparable with /99/$ - see front matter 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved. PII: S (98)

2 162 P. Söderbaum / Ecological Economics 28 (1999) traditional paradigms, such as neoclassical economics. Our ideas of science and scientific work differs (I would say positively) in some respects from traditional ones. And one of the key issues has to do with values and ideology in the social sciences. In a field where there is some heterogeneity or diversity, there will be a tendency for each author to start with some initial remarks concerning foundations rather than regard them as given. This article is no exception. I will start by indicating what I mean by ecological economics, or more precisely, an institutional version of ecological economics. (I should add immediately that there are other versions of ecological economics and that some institutionalists hesitate to take the steps proposed here.) This platform will then be my point of departure for a discussion on value issues in ecological economics. Certain concepts will be introduced that I hope will be useful in dealing with the ideological and political aspects of ecological economics. 2. Key features of ecological economics A first characteristic of ecological economics is a value commitment to work for a sustainable society in an ecological sense. Action for a sustainable society received some political legitimacy at the UN conference in Rio de Janeiro, As a first approximation, ecological economics can therefore be described as economics in the spirit of Agenda 21. A second feature of ecological economics is a readiness to address the fundamental issues of conceptual framework and values. This follows from the first characteristic. It is more important to protect the environment than to protect the neoclassical paradigm. If our chances of getting closer to a sustainable society increase by reconsidering values, concepts and paradigms, then we should do so. A third characteristic that is related to the first two is a belief in the usefulness of interacting with scholars from other disciplines. Economists can engage in co-operative learning processes with ecologists and vice versa. The number of disciplines that can contribute to ecological economics is much larger, however, than the two mentioned, as will be discussed later on. Similarly, ecological economists understand the importance of getting outside the university walls to learn from and enter into a dialogue with various actors in society like business leaders, politicians and members of civil society organisations. Observing essential imperatives of democracy is our fourth and final feature of ecological economics that in a way summarises the other three. Contrary to the idea that science can be, or should be, separated from society, I believe that the imperatives of democracy are relevant also for scholarly work. As scholars we cannot suggest methods (cf. Cost Benefit Analysis) that are incompatible with democracy, for example. Listening to and learning from actors outside universities appears to be extremely important. In many cases new thinking and new visions stem from such sources. 3. Science and ideology According to popular beliefs, science is about truth, objectivity and value-neutrality. Though some social science scholars realise that value-neutrality is an illusion, they hesitate to discuss issues of values and ideology openly. Words such as world view or ideology are more or less forbidden, it appears, except perhaps in Political Science, where these matters cannot be avoided. I will use a radically different strategy. Our effort, as ecological economists, to look for a new conceptual framework and to suggest strategies and policies for various actors in society is not only a matter of science in some objective sense. It is as much a matter of ideology. As Myrdal (1978) has argued: There can be no view except from a viewpoint. In the questions raised, valuations are implied (p. 778). The scholar s preference for one paradigm, such as institutional economics as compared with neoclassical economics, is not exclusively a matter of truth, but as much of values and ideology. Within the scope of a particular paradigm there is a considerable choice in terms

3 P. Söderbaum / Ecological Economics 28 (1999) of subjects, methods to be used and so on. Relying on established scientific method is often helpful but will almost never be enough as a guiding principle in social science research. The basic values, and even personality, of the scholar will influence the work done. Rather than values, I will use the term ideology. Ideology is here used in a broad sense as ideas about means and ends and is not limited to the more or less established political ideologies (socialism, liberalism, ecologism, feminism etc.). Distinctions can be made between different environmental ideologies; for instance, one characterised by technological optimism, another by a version of the precautionary principle (cf. Costanza et al., 1997, pp on technological optimism versus prudent scepticism ). Similarly, one may refer to means-ends principles in health care (centralisation versus decentralisation, for instance), education and even in research, as ideologies. Some of us believe in transdisciplinary research, others do not. It can be noted that Myrdal is not alone in his emphasis on values among those who have received the (otherwise highly questionable) Bank of Sweden s Award in Economics in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Douglas North, albeit in a footnote, makes the following statement: By ideology, I mean the subjective perceptions (models, theories) all people possess to explain the world around them. Whether at the microlevel of individual relationships or at the macrolevel of organized ideologies providing integrated explanations of the past and the present, such as communism or religions, the theories individuals construct are colored by normative views of how the world should be organized. (North, 1990 p. 23, italics by North) As already noted, neoclassical economics is both science and ideology. The same is true of any alternative theoretical framework, such as some version of ecological economics, socio-economics or feministic economics. Each theoretical perspective focuses on certain phenomena at the expense of others. Neoclassical economics focuses on markets and prices, for instance, while advocates of feministic economics may point to the importance of unpaid work (Perkins, 1997). When economists disagree at the level of paradigms or within the scope of one paradigm, the reasons are as much ideological as scientific. So called truth is partly a matter of ideology in the above broad sense. While all the mentioned competing (or complementary) theoretical perspectives offer scientific as well as ideological guidance, neoclassical economics is more of a problem because of its dominant position. A near monopoly position for neoclassical theory means a near monopoly position for neoclassical ideology, and this situation can be called into question in societies that claim to respect the imperatives of democracy. Why should departments of economics be reduced to propaganda centres for one particular market ideology? Only a situation of simultaneous coexistence of theoretical perspectives in economics appears compatible with democracy. The conceptual framework of neoclassical theory plays the role of legitimising specific values, thinking patterns and behaviour of various actors in society, be they business leaders, politicians or ordinary citizens. In neoclassical theory, for example, the firm is the only organisation considered and the firm is assumed to maximise profits. It is clear that such a theory does not do much to legitimise non-business organisations or goals other than monetary profits. A theory that legitimises limited responsibility appears incompatible with a situation where an increasing number of actors, even within the business community, argue in favour of extended responsibility. In Europe and elsewhere, Environmental Management Systems, such as ISO and EMAS (European Union Management and Audit Scheme) play an increasing role. Environmental impacts of business operations are monitored and reported in accounting systems and elsewhere. Arguing that such effects on the environment should be understood only as a matter of impacts on company profits, becomes increasingly strained. While Myrdal referred mainly to scholarly work, Douglas North suggests that ideology is something that all people possess. I will essentially follow North s example by arguing that

4 164 P. Söderbaum / Ecological Economics 28 (1999) ideology or rather ideological orientation plays a role in all spheres of human life. Economic Man will get a long-needed competitor, here named Political Economic Person. As a second stage in this process the Political Economic Organisation will be introduced. 4. Political Economic Person According to Political Economic Person (PEP) assumptions, man is, as the name suggests, regarded as a political being. Rather than a consumer maximising utility, she/he is regarded as an actor with many roles and embedded in a network of relationships. In understanding the behaviour of individuals as actors, the following concepts are essential: roles; relationships; activities; and motives or interests. At a more integrated level, reference is made to: identity; network; life-style; ideological orientation; and power and resources. Our Political Economic Person is furthermore related to a context that is: socio-cultural; institutional; physical, man-made; and ecological. In neoclassical economics, man is seen as consumer and wage-earner. This view of man can be useful for some purposes but is insufficient for our present purposes. A person can act in a socially responsible manner through the market, but there are other roles as well which are relevant in relation to social and environmental problems and action, such as those of being a parent, a professional, a member of an environmental organisation and a citizen. While the terminology chosen points to the political aspect, the individual is at the same time regarded as a social being, i.e. a person embedded in a web (or network) of social relationships. Only a subset of these relationships are market relationships. In spite of tensions between various motives and interests, the individual is somehow kept together through ideas of her/his role or identity in relation to each specific socio-cultural context. Dissonance theory, learning theory and other parts of social psychology are useful in understanding behaviour. The individual strives for some congruence and balance between roles, relationships, activities and interests, and may experience such balance, but incompatibility and tensions are equally characteristics of the human existence. Egoistic versus other-related or community oriented (cf. Daly and Cobb Jr., 1989) motives are an example of such tensions. This points to a view of man as a moral being where responsibility in relation to others and society at large becomes a potential issue. Amitai Etzioni, for instance, has propounded an I and We paradigm (Etzioni, 1988). According to him, the fact that there is a strong ego in each healthy individual is not sufficient reason to denigrate or exclude the social and ethical aspect of human behaviour. Each individual is part of many groups, that is we contexts and such relationships involve a number of tensions and ethical issues. (Ethics is, of course, also relevant for we they relationships, for instance in situations of conflicts related to the environment.) Similarly Sen (1987), an open-minded, mainly neoclassical economist, has argued in favour of explicit consideration of ethics (as opposed to what he calls the engineering tradition ) in economics. The fact that Sen will get the award in memory of Alfred Nobel for 1998 suggests that his ideas about ethics and economics are gaining ground. The important lesson to be learnt from Etzioni s arguments is that the dualism between egoistic and altruistic motives or behaviour frequently made by neoclassical economists can be questioned. Man can at the same time be egoistic and other related, and the life-style of our Political Economic Person may furthermore develop in a more other-related (or egoistic) direction with the lapse of time. And as a responsible individual, our Political Economic Person is faced with many ethical choices.

5 P. Söderbaum / Ecological Economics 28 (1999) While neoclassicists tend to see individuals as robot-like optimizers who instantly react to price signals, institutionalists and many other social scientists point rather to the important role of habits in human behaviour. The individual is largely locked into specific habits of thought and specific habitual activities that together form a pattern, here referred to as a life-style. At an early stage, Herbert Simon (the fourth winner of the Nobel award mentioned here) pointed to selective perception, limited cognitive capacity and search costs as relevant in understanding human behaviour (Simon, 1976). As humans we tend to stick to familiar environments and use various rules of thumb to deal with complexity. Emphasis on habitual behaviour however does not exclude the possibility of problemistic search and conscious decision-making. At times, the individual perceives a problem and alternative courses of action. Habits are reconsidered and behaviour may change. It may be noted that the neoclassical theory of the consumer is limited not only in the sense that one human role is emphasised to the exclusion almost of all other roles. In addition, consumer tastes and preferences are taken as given. As part of an imagined value-neutrality, the neoclassical scholar regards it as external to her/his role to problematise the values and life-styles of consumers. But if, as many suggest, environmental problems are connected with present consumer preferences and life-styles, and more generally with the dominant world view in industrial societies, then the neoclassical approach overlooks essential aspects of the problems. Focusing instead on Political Economic Person and ideological orientation means that the different consumer preferences and life-styles of two individuals (or one individual in different periods) are no longer necessarily regarded as equally justified. Supported by a simultaneous facilitating public policy or not, individuals may move in a step-by-step manner away from life-styles that are socially or environmentally destructive towards those that are more beneficial. But again, whether such moves represent an advance is a matter of the ethical judgements and ideological orientation of the observer. 5. Ideological orientation, valuation and decision-making As already indicated, our Political Economic Person is characterised by her/his ideological orientation. A person s ideological orientation rests on beliefs and is more or less uncertain. Ideological orientation then refers to a mindset characterised by often fragmentary patterns of seeing, thinking and feeling and is very different from the complete, logically closed, mathematical objective function assumed in neoclassical analysis. Ideas and images are essential elements in the ideological orientation of an actor and these ideas and images change as a result of partly conscious, partly unconscious processes. Changes in such ideas are furthermore hindered or facilitated by various contextual factors, for instance, by the actors, interested parties and institutional arrangements related to an issue. Science and public debate play a role by influencing ideas and images that provide the ideological orientation of individuals as actors or citizens. These ideas and images can be seen, at least in part, as socially constructed to achieve specific purposes. As an example, the ideas and images of textbooks in economics and business management may influence the views that students and other actors hold about man, man nature relationships, economics, efficiency, development, social change and about various institutions, such as the business corporation, the market and the state. Individuals may act habitually or after consideration of competing alternatives. In both cases, it is assumed that the ideological orientation of the individual is of importance. If the individual feels that her practical behaviour deviates from her ideals or ideological orientation, then there are reasons to reconsider either ideological orientation or practical behaviour, or both, to make them more compatible. The ideological orientation thus serves the function of valuing various phenomena in the more conscious decision making part of a person s adaptation to her context. There is a valuational and emotional aspect of our attitudes to various objects or persons and more generally to our environment, and in addition to ongoing activities, valuation may refer to past and future activities, projects or policies.

6 166 P. Söderbaum / Ecological Economics 28 (1999) As part of neoclassical economics, it is normally implied that rationality has to do with the maximisation (minimisation) of an objective function. The consumer is assumed to maximise utility and the firm maximises monetary profits. The cost-benefit analyst similarly maximises present value at the societal level, where value refers to the pecuniary or monetary value as expressed by a set of actual and shadow prices. While not excluding the usefulness of optimisation in mathematical terms for some subset of decision making situations, it is suggested here that rationality and decision making are based primarily on ideology and ethics. Instead of comprehensive rationality, there are plural rationalities related to different ideologies (cf. Glasser, 1998). Individuals appear in specific roles and contexts and make conscious decisions as part of adaptation processes, where orientation, profile, compatibility, matching and pattern recognition are key concepts. One of our strengths as human beings is the ability to recognise patterns (Simon, 1983). Decisions can be thought of in terms of matching the multifaceted and multidimensional ideological orientation or profile of each decision maker with the likewise multifaceted and multidimensional impact profile of each alternative (Fig. 1). This view opens the way for multidimensional thinking and thinking in terms of pictures and Gestalts in addition to one-dimensional numbers. According to this view, an alternative is attractive for an individual if a good fit between her ideological orientation and the impact profile of the alternative considered is expected or experienced. As part of a conscious decision process, individuals may reconsider their ideological orientation. In this Fig. 1. A holistic idea of rationality and the decision act. The ideological profile of each decision-maker is matched against the expected impact profile of each alternative. (Source: Söderbaum, 1998a). sense, the values, and even the principles of evaluation, are not seen as constant and given, but may change as part of a process of learning and dialogue between the actors involved. To illustrate this idea of viewing the relationship between the decision maker(s) and each alternative considered in terms of a pattern recognition or matching process, an example from private life may be of help. Complex decision situations exist not only in organisations and in public life but (as most of us have realised) in the realm of private affairs. Let us assume that the members of a family have taken a decision to relocate and buy a new house. A number of options are being considered. Each family member is assumed to refer to an ideological orientation, in this case an idea of what might constitute a good, satisfactory or even the best solution to the problem faced. When visiting one of the houses considered in its specific context and learning about its functional, aesthetic and other qualities, each member might test the compatibility between her/his image(s) and other ideas of a good solution and her/his expectations of the impacts of the particular alternative at hand. If all family members experience a good fit, then they may be ready to make the purchase or continue search in the hope of finding an even better alternative. Whether applied at the level of private or public affairs, or something in between, the above idea of rationality does allow for pictures and images, i.e. visual thinking (or seeing), and qualitative arguments in addition to quantitative measurement and analysis, for instance, of monetary costs or physical space. Numbers of the latter kind never represent more than partial analysis and should be regarded as elements in an overall picture. There are systematic approaches to decision making other than those ending with one-dimensional numbers. Experiences from private life suggest that individuals often prefer the holistic or non-reductionist idea of rationality indicated here. Mark Sagoff has similarly criticised neoclassical Cost Benefit Analysis by arguing that environmental policy and decision making in relation to environmental issues should not be built on consumer preferences. Man is also a citizen and in

7 P. Söderbaum / Ecological Economics 28 (1999) relation to environmental issues citizen preferences rather than consumer preferences are the ones that count (Sagoff, 1988). Sagoff s contribution has been extremely important in the debate about CBA and reflects his scientific and ideological orientation. The distinction between two kinds of preferences that are relevant for different spheres of decision making is valuable in educational terms but may not be enough. Alternatively, the individual could be regarded in holistic terms with all her/his roles, relationships, motives, activities which together are reflected in the person s identity and ideological orientation. Social responsibility, or lack of it, is relevant as a potential issue in all spheres of human life, market behaviour included. Reductionist or cynical reasoning is as bad in business and consumer behaviour as elsewhere. In a recent article, Sagoff (1998) makes a distinction between a utilitarian approach and a deontological (or Kantian) approach (p. 214), suggesting that issues of responsibility have a role in decision making. Sagoff also refers to March (1994) who argues that decision makers may pursue a logic of appropriateness, fulfilling identities or roles by recognising situations and following rules that match appropriate behaviour to situations they encounter (March ibid. p. viii). Ideological orientation as a feature of Political Economic Person refers to the ethical or valuational standpoints of specific individuals and thus includes the possibility of a utilitarian position. But it is clear that my personal ideological orientation (as a scholar, market actor and citizen) in relation to environmental issues is more in line with Kantian than utilitarian ethics. 6. Political Economic Organisation The theory of the firm as a profit maximising entity suffers from the following weaknesses: all kinds of organisations are reduced to one model; effects that are multidimensional are reduced to one monetary dimension hiding multidimensional realities; individuals are made (more or less) invisible; and issues of ideology, ethics, participation and responsibility are avoided in favour of one specific market ideology. In relation to environmental and development issues, these features of the neoclassical model become problematic. In the business management literature, steps have been taken to overcome some of the above limitations. While economics is rather monistic, studies of business companies and other organisations are more varied and pluralistic. Models of organisation are regarded as largely complementary or useful for different purposes (Morgan, 1986). Organisation theorists have introduced a stakeholder model of the firm and of other organisations. In relation to an organisation, an attempt is made to identify all interested parties, i.e. all those who have something at stake in the functioning and performance of the organisation. Employees, shareholders, other investors, suppliers, customers, neighbours (who may suffer from pollution, for example) are among the interest groups normally identified. In our view, a move from the neoclassical theory of the firm to a stakeholder model represents a significant step. Having something at stake can be based on ownership as in the case of shareholders. But it can also be based on other contractual or non-contractual relationships with an organisation. The stakeholder model suggests that the interested parties have something in common, but also that there are conflicting interests. In situations of conflict, ethical issues can be raised, at least in principle. In practice, most students of business companies and other organisations tend to avoid ethical or ideological arguments as much as neoclassical economists. Another development in the business management literature that concerns us here is an interaction or network approach that has been discussed mainly in relation to industrial purchasing (Ford, 1990; Håkansson and Snehota, 1995). Contrary to the neoclassical ideas of markets in terms of supply and demand, it is argued that market relationships between a firm or other organisation and its suppliers are quite stable. There is a social aspect of these relationships, and firms may engage in technological and other co-operation as part of the relationship.

8 168 P. Söderbaum / Ecological Economics 28 (1999) The study of industrial markets referred to is primarily carried out at the level of companies, i.e. companies are regarded as the actors. Individuals as actors may appear, but are less visible than in the framework here suggested. Environment in the studies by Håkansson and his colleagues refers to market structure, position in the market channel, internationalisation and not to the kind of environment discussed in this essay. No reference is made to life-style, ideological orientation or similar concepts. But many of the soft variables are there such as the image of a corporation or its goodwill in relation to customers. Our Political Economic Organisation model recognises some positive features of the stakeholder and the interaction/network models indicated. We are interested in a model that responds to some of the weaknesses of neoclassical theory (in relation to environment and development issues) noted above. The theory should: be applicable to all kinds of organisations rather than exclusively business companies; build on a disaggregated idea of economics and efficiency where non-monetary impacts are as real and economic as monetary ones; make individuals visible as actors with their specific responsibilities; and raise rather than hide issues of ideology, ethics, participation and responsibility. The organisation is regarded as a collectivity of individual actors who differ in some respects but share some values and a kind of ideological orientation or business concept. The individual remains visible in an organisation that is regarded as polycentric. Each individual is a Political Economic Person (i.e. an actor) and a potential centre for initiatives and action in relation to environmental and other issues. The organisation is a Political Economic Organisation which may have an environmental policy, a social policy and so on. It is a trivial observation that when a business company, or a university, moves in a green direction, all actors and stakeholders related to the organisation do not change their minds at the same time in the same way and to the same degree. Some individuals act as entrepreneurs in environmental affairs, taking initiatives of various kinds and encouraging others to participate in a change process. At a specific moment in time, some actors in the employee category may be green in orientation while others are not. Something similar may be true of the shareholders, suppliers, customers and other actor categories. Actors belonging to different categories in the above sense, who are green in their ideological orientation may go together to work for a socially and environmentally more responsible company. Markets can similarly be seen in the light of polycentric networks of individuals as actors. The idea is simple. For example, green consumers will prefer green producers or companies. Green producers in turn will look for green suppliers. Market segmentation along green lines will occur and green networks will compete with those that are less green or nongreen. Reasoning in terms of ideological orientation, business concepts and mission statements lead to a conditional view of the functioning of organisations and markets. Some scholars and business representatives have a very optimistic view of organisations such as transnational corporations, or of markets. The invisible hand will solve all problems, environmental ones included. Others warn against this kind of dogmatism (Korten, 1995). The conditional view advocated here simply states that the functioning of organisations or markets depends on individuals as actors in organisations or in market relationships and on their knowledge, moral and ideological orientation. The resources at the disposal of each actor, or group of actors, are certainly also of importance as are the rules of the game or institutional context. And the rules of the game are not only a matter of prevailing national laws and international agreements. The actors themselves exert influence on the system of laws and in addition they create their own rules. The rules formed as part of the self-regulation of business may furthermore be less permissive than the rules implemented through the state. To comply with present laws is no longer enough for many companies.

9 P. Söderbaum / Ecological Economics 28 (1999) Political economics In this essay, I have pointed to some possible building blocks in a political economics approach to environment and development. The story can continue from our PEP and PEO models to interpretations of relationships and networks in political terms. Our views of economics, efficiency and decision making will also have to be reconsidered (Söderbaum, 1998a,b). If ideological orientation is regarded as important, then the assumptions about homogeneity of professional groups (farmers, bureaucrats) of public choice theory no longer necessarily holds. As an example, farmers who are green and non-green in their ideological orientation may not be able to co-operate (Söderbaum, 1992). If scholarly work cannot be separated from the world of politics, then ideas about democracy also apply to science, especially the social sciences. Costanza (1989) pointed to the need for some degree of pluralism in his introductory remarks as editor of Ecological Economics, and Norgaard (1989, 1994) has repeatedly pointed in the same direction (see also Vedeld, 1994). Our ambition should rather be to illuminate or elucidate various issues in a multifaceted way. We should realise that the CBA project of value-neutral valuation is not a very promising one. A specific ideology is built into CBA and being highly controversial, this ideology cannot claim sovereignty. As scholars we should openly address value issues and cannot dictate correct values. The reasons why a particular paradigm dominates at a particular point in time are furthermore partly political and not exclusively scientific. Pluralism is therefore a wise strategy, not only for ecological economics, but for all departments of economics and other (social) sciences. It is clear that disciplines such as Political Science and Business Management have something to offer for future research in ecological economics. A lot happens in the area of business and environment or greening of business, and ecological economists need to take part in this dialogue with representatives of business interests. Ethics, sociology and various engineering disciplines exemplify additional fields of study where work is done in the spirit of Agenda 21. Getting closer to a socially and ecologically sustainable society cannot be reduced to technicalities. Ecological economists should take part in a debate about old and new political ideologies and about ideologies in the broader sense discussed in this article. Solving environmental problems is not exclusively about impact analysis. We should also discuss the importance of specific impacts when compared with other impacts, and here ideology is of help. As I have tried to show, ideology and ideological orientation is (or can be) used directly for decision making purposes. This suggests that interviews with actors and stakeholders, who in different roles influence the future states of our environment, represents one of many exciting fields for future research. Acknowledgements This article has benefited from comments from Jonathan M. Harris and two anonymous referees. References Costanza, R., What is ecological economics? Ecol. Econ. 1 (1), 1 7. Costanza, R., Frontiers in Ecological Economics: Transdisciplinary Essays by R. Costanza. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham. Costanza, R., Cumberland, J., Daly, H., Goodland, R., Norgaard, R., An Introduction to Ecological Economics. St. Lucie Press, Boca Raton FL. Daly, H.A., Cobb, J.R. Jr., For the Common Good. Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment and a Sustainable Future. Beacon Press, Boston. Etzioni, A., The Moral Dimension. Toward a New Economics. The Free Press, New York. Ford, D. (Ed.), Understanding Business Markets. Interaction, Relationships, Networks. Academic Press, London. Glasser, H., On the evaluation of wicked problems. Guidelines for integrating qualitative and quantitative factors in environmental policy analysis. In: Lichfield, N., Barbanente, A., Borri, D., Khakee, A., Prat, A. (Eds.), Evaluation in Planning. Facing the Challenge of Complexity. Kluwer, Dortrecht. Håkansson, H., Snehota, I. (Eds.), Developing Relationships in Business Networks. Routledge, London. Korten, D.C., When Corporations Rule the World. Kumarian Press, West Hartford.

10 170 P. Söderbaum / Ecological Economics 28 (1999) Krishnan, R., Harris, J.M., Goodwin, N.R. (Eds.), A Survey of Ecological Economics (Frontier Issues in Economic Thought). Island Press, Washington DC. March, J.G., A Primer in Decision Making. The Free Press, New York. Morgan, G., Images of Organization. SAGE, London. Myrdal, G., Institutional Economics. J. Econ. Issues 12 (4), Norgaard, R.B., The case for methodological pluralism. Ecol. Econ. 1 (1), Norgaard, R.B., Development Betrayed. The End of Progress and a Coevolutionary Revisioning of the Future. Routledge, London. North, D.C., Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Perkins, E. (Ed.), Women, ecology and economics. Ecol. Econ. 20(Special Issue), Sagoff, M., The Economy of the Earth. Philosophy, Law and the Environment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Sagoff, M., Aggregation and deliberation in valuing environmental public goods: a look beyond contingent pricing. Ecol. Econ. 24, Sen, A., On Ethics in Economics. Basil Blackwell, New York. Simon, H.A., Administrative Behaviour (3rd ed.). The Free Press, New York. Simon, H.A., Reason in Human Affairs. Basil Blackwell, London. Söderbaum, P., Neoclassical and institutional approaches to development and the environment. Ecol. Econ. 5, Söderbaum, P., Valuation as part of a microeconomics for ecological sustainability. In: O Connor, M., Spash, C. (Eds.), Valuation and the Environment. Theory, Method and Practice. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp Söderbaum, P., 1998b. Ecological Economics. A Political Economics Approach to Environment and Development (Book manuscript). Vedeld, P.O., The environment and interdisciplinarity. Ecological and neoclassical economic approaches to the use of natural resources. Ecol. Econ. 10 (1),