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Wirtschaftswachstum und soziale Frage

Zur soziologischen Bedeutung der ökonomischen Theorie von Hans Christoph Binswanger

"Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Nachhaltigkeitsforschung"  · volume 20

351 pages ·  36.80 EUR (incl. VAT and Free shipping)
ISBN 978-3-7316-1383-1 (June 2019 )

Gewinner des Hans-Christoph-Binswanger-Preises 2019

 
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Hans Christoph Binswanger (1929-2018) gilt als Pionier der Umweltökonomie. Aber er scheint mit seinem wissenschaftlichen Kernanliegen bisher weitgehend unverstanden. Seine Theorie der «Wachstumsspirale» kritisiert die neoklassisch geprägte Mainstream-Ökonomie fundamental. Diese sei blind für den Wachstumszwang, der mit der modernen Geldwirtschaft einhergehe. Ohne Wachstum drohe ein katastrophaler Schrumpfungsprozess. Andererseits gefährde anhaltendes Wachstum die Tragfähigkeit der ökologischen Systeme. Auch die (post-)keynesianische Kritik der Neoklassik übersehe dieses Problem, weshalb es bis heute an wirksamen Perspektiven für eine nachhaltige Wirtschaft fehle. Für seine eigene Theorie nahm Binswanger in Anspruch, das ökonomische Geschehen erstmals seit der Industrialisierung widerspruchsfrei und wirklichkeitsgemäß erfassen zu können. Die richtige Analyse galt ihm als Voraussetzung für nachhaltige Lösungen in Politik und Wirtschaft.

Simon Mugier untersucht, welche ökonomischen und soziologischen (Vor-)Urteile bisher daran hindern, die umfassende gesellschaftliche Bedeutung der Theorie der Wachstumsspirale anzuerkennen. Er entdeckt dabei auch weniger offensichtliche Implikationen, die mit der sozialen Frage zusammenhängen. Das Wirtschaftswachstum schadet nicht nur der Umwelt, sondern korrumpiert auch systematisch die gesellschaftliche Solidarität.

Journal of Consumer Policy https://doi.org/10.1007/s10603-019-09425-0, 6.8.2019

"The author examines the economic theory of Hans Christoph Binswanger (1929-2018) from a sociological standpoint. Binswanger's approach, which Mugier calls "the theory of the growth spiral," provides a fundamental critique of neoclassic economic theory as the basis of modern mainstream economics. The main reason for this criticism is that, first, neoclassical economics neglects the sociological role of money, and second, it does not integrate nature as a factor of production either. Binswanger's theory is not very well known, and this book examines the sociological discourses that may have caused prejudices and deprecatory attitudes towards this theory. One of the main findings is that Binswanger indeed emphasized the social question arguing that the economic growth spiral is always accompanied by a vicious circle of social undersupply. Moreover, Binswanger's proposals to solve the ecological question imply the solution of the (new) social question by moderating economic growth, curtailing the formal economy, and reconquering free space for working and living in human dignity outside the monetary-based market system."

Simon Mugier erhält für seine Schrift "Wirtschaftswachstum und soziale Frage" den Hans-Christoph Binswanger Preis 2019. Die Preisverleihung wird im Rahmen der Oikos Konferenz an der Universität St.Gallen am 26. November 2019, ca. 18.00 Uhr stattfinden. Herzlichen Glückwunsch!

In his book “Wirtschaftswachstum und soziale Frage”, Simon Mugier examines the economic theory of Hans Christoph Binswanger (1929-2018) from a sociological standpoint. Recently, the attention towards the collateral damages of economic growth increases, both in respect to ecological and social problems. Political actors as well as economists have not yet managed to cope with the situation adequately, neither in theory nor in practice. Hans Christoph Binswanger had an explanation therefor. His economic theory – Mugier calls it “the theory of the growth spiral” – renders false the neoclassic theory as the basis of the modern mainstream economy. The neoclassic has been excluding the role of the money as well as it has never properly integrated the role of the nature as a factor of production. Binswanger states that money and energy (gained from natural resources) matter in modern economy and must be included into economical thinking. And he claims his own theory to be the first to get an adequate theoretical grasp of the economy since it shifted from traditional agriculture to modern industrialisation. It integrates many insights of older dogmas and overcomes their dead ends. It describes the economy as a growth spiral, forced by a more socio-structural based “growth imperative” and driven by a more socio-psychological based “growth impetus”. The growth dynamic is mainly caused by the invention of the fiat money and held up by the exploitation of nature. The force to growth and the will to growth both hinder more sustainable pathways. Binswanger was convinced: Sustainability cannot become feasible until the dynamic of growth is understood in its depths. Once Binswanger had formed the theory in extent, he made several propositions towards sustainable reforms such as taxing energy resources (by the way, he was the first who brought up the idea), reforming the financial system (e.g. by the invention of 100%-money according to Irving Fisher) or reforming the corporation law (since he identified the stock corporation as the main driver of the economic growth). The significance of Binswangers theory is obvious. But despite of his splendid reputation as professor at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) and advocate of the ecological economy, his theory remains rather unknown and little adopted. This is especially surprising in the realm of (economic) sociology, where the critical reflection of the economy is almost part of its disciplinary identity. That’s why Mugier examines sociological discourses which may have caused prejudice and deprecatory attitudes towards Binswanger’s theory. The titles of the discourses Mugier discusses are: model Platonism, “Werturteilsstreit”, rational choice, and the social question. He concludes that Binswangers theory could be well linked to these discourses and he qualifies the presupposed prejudices and deprecatory attitudes as baseless. A main result may be Mugier’s conclusion that Binswanger took the social question well into account. Binswanger already stated in his earlier work that in the growing economy social care becomes increasingly scarce. The “old” social question – the provision of food and other material goods for living – was solved by the industrialisation, its technical production and the delivery of sufficient and relatively low-priced industrial goods. But at the same time, it caused a lack of social care and raised therefore a new social question. The reason is complex: The market in its modern structures produces price advantages to industrialised production and disadvantages to human labour. It’s a common place that we pay little for technical produced goods and much for services supplied by human labour. Since social care cannot (easily) be replaced by machines it remains expensive. Or more precise: in the growing economy social care becomes increasingly scarce. The growth spiral is hence accompanied by a vicious circle of social undersupply. Although in his later work Binswanger focused upon the ecological matter, his proposals to solve the ecological question also imply the solution of the (new) social question. It’s all about moderating the economic growth, curtailing the formal economy and reconquer free space for working and living in human dignity outside the monetary based market system.

the author
Dr. Simon Mugier
Simon Mugier studierte Philosophie, Soziologie und Politikwissenschaften in Basel und Freiburg im Breisgau und promovierte bei Ueli Mäder und Irmi Seidl an der Universität Basel im Fachbereich Soziologie. Er ist Dozent für Soziologie, Philosophie und qualitative Methoden an der Zürcher Fachhochschule ZHAW und geschäftsführender Vorstand beim KunstRaumRhein in Basel und Dornach.
known reviews by the publisher
  • Journal of Consumer Policy https://doi.org/10.1007/s10603-019-09425-0, 6.8.2019 more...
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