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Is Becoming EcoEco Digital Native Indigo Children?

Ecological Economics
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doi:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2010.11.016 | How to Cite or Link Using DOI
Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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A bibliometric account of the evolution of EE in the last two decades: Is ecological economics (becoming) a post-normal science?
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Manuela Castro e Silvaa, e, E-mail The Corresponding Author and Aurora A.C. Teixeiraa, b, c, d, low asterisk, E-mail The Corresponding Author

a Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto, Portugal

b CEF.UP, Portugal

c INESC Porto, Portugal

d OBEGEF, Portugal

e EDGE - Estudos de Gestão - Centro de Investigação, Estudos e Serviços, Portugal

Received 31 August 2010;
revised 14 November 2010;
accepted 22 November 2010.
Available online 20 January 2011.


In ecological economics the debate on formalism and formalization has been addressed in the context of a lively discussion on ecological economics as a ‘post-normal’ (versus ‘normal’) science. Using ecological economics (EE) as a ‘seed’ journal and applying bibliometric techniques to all (2533) the articles published in EE from January 1989 to December 2009, we analyze the evolution of the field of ecological economics aiming to shed light on this debate. We observe the predominance (and increased relevance) of certain research topics: ‘Methodological issues’, ‘Policies, governance and institutions’ and ‘Valuation’. Moreover, ‘Collective action’, ‘Technical change and the environment’ and ‘Values’ stand as emergent themes of research. Finally, we note that ecological economics experienced an ‘empirical turn’ reflected in a shift away from exclusively formalized papers towards exclusively empirical and, to a larger extent, ‘formal and empirical’ ones. The combination of the prominent and emergent topics and the ‘empirical turn’ mirrors the increasing awareness among researchers in the field of the need to address a key specificity of ecological economics — the interdependence of the economic, biophysical and social spheres. On this basis, we argue that at least through the lens of EE, ecological economics has evolved towards a post-normal science.

Keywords: Ecological economics; Bibliometrics; Research trends; Methodology; Post-normal science

Article Outline

Defining the Main Themes in Ecological Economics
2.1. Theory Building
2.2. Methodological Issues
2.3. Values
2.4. Policies, Governance and Institutions
2.5. Technical Change and the Environment
2.6. Trade and the Environment
2.7. Global Environmental Issues7
2.8. Production, Consumption and Sustainability
2.9. Biodiversity Conservation8
2.10. Valuation
Methodological Considerations
Evolution of the Scientific Field of Ecological Economics: Evidence from a Bibliometric Exercise
4.1. Main themes
4.2. Main Type/Methods
4.3. Crossing Themes and Types

Corresponding Author Contact InformationCorresponding author. Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto, Rua Dr Roberto Frias, 4200-464 Porto, Portugal. Tel.: +351 225571100; fax: +351 225505050.

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