What Does 'Natural Capital' Do? The Role of Metaphor in Economic Understanding of the Environment

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Abstract:

At the time of its introduction in the end of the 1980s, the concept of natural capital represented new, more ecologically aware thinking in economics. As a symbol of novel thinking, the metaphor of natural capital stimulated a debate between different disciplinary traditions on the definitions of the concept and research priorities and methods. The concept became a means to control the discourse of sustainable development. In this paper, I focus on the power/knowledge implications of the use of the concept, and I follow the career of the concept of natural capital in ecological economic publications between the years 1988 and 2000. The main interests are(1) in the use of the concept to affect the rules according to which claims concerning sustainable development can be made and (2) in the constitution of objects of environmental knowledge.

Keywords: calculative practice; ecological economics; natural capital; power/knowledge

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3197/096327103129341397

Publication date: November 1, 2003

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has an impact factor (2013) of 1.739.
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