A bibliometric account of the evolution of EE in the last two decades: Is ecological economics (becoming) a post-normal science?
Manuela Castro e Silvaa, e, and Aurora A.C. Teixeiraa, b, c, d, ,
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