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Sustainable Consumption and the New Economics: Exploring an Alternative Approach.

CSERGE Working Paper ECM 07-05

Gill Seyfang, May 2007

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Summary :

An alternative theoretical approach to environmental governance and sustainable consumption is proposed by a broad body of thought known collectively as the ‘new economics’. It is founded on four key elements which define it as alternative to the mainstream: new conceptions of wealth, broader definitions of work, new uses of money,and reintegrating ethics into economic life. This paper is concerned with exploring the

practical implications of this normative theory through an examination of an emblematic ‘new economics’ project which sets out a new, sustainable system of provisioning: ‘time banks’, a community-building initiative which uses time as money to reward community engagement and build social capital. Although successful in a ‘niche’, the alterity of this initiative result in problematic interactions with mainstream social, economic, ideological and policy regimes – particularly around issues of defining ‘work’ and income entitlement within the modern welfare state’s social contract.