An original theory of contemporary capitalist growth and its socio-ecological contradictions
Faced with an ecological crisis of existential proportions, the economic relations of capitalism have only fanned the flames. The transformation of property relations is an urgent necessity, but not, in itself, enough to save us. Enter 'degrowth': a concept that radically challenges contemporary life, culture and economics as we know it.
Through an impressive synthesis of the traditions of eco-Marxism and feminist ecological economics, Éric Pineault presents a well-rounded critique of contemporary capitalist growth and its socio-ecological contradictions, in which growth is understood as both a biophysical and accumulation process.
The book provides fresh answers to key questions of current socio-ecological debates: Why does capitalist society depend on accelerating growth? Why is the constant upscaling of its economic process necessary for its social stability? How does this deepen the ecological contradictions that humanity now faces? And what can we learn from this for our understanding of emancipatory futures?
About the Author
Éric Pineault is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal. His research focuses on financial institutions, extractive economies, the issue of ecological transition and degrowth as well as the general macroeconomic and social transformations of advanced capitalism.
What People Are Saying
"A remarkably insightful analysis of the complex interface between capital and nature. This is indispensable reading for scholars, students and activists." William Carroll, Professor of Sociology, University of Victoria, Canada
"A Social Ecology of Capital is essential reading for all interested in ecological crises, limits to growth, and alternatives. Its materialist-feminist analysis of growth as biophysical expansion and accumulation presents a much-needed foundation for understanding our current predicament." Matthias Schmelzer, author of The Hegemony of Growth
"In systematically illuminating the material flows and constraints of fossil-fuelled capitalism, Pineault has compiled a useful guide to social metabolism for Marxists. He shows that, to understand our global ecological predicament, we must go beyond Marx in establishing a materialist social science." Alf Hornborg, Professor Emeritus of Human Ecology, Lund University and author of The Magic of Technology: The Machine as a Transformation of Slavery
'A timely and urgent analysis which seeks to comprehend our ecological plight through an elucidation of monopoly capital." Gareth Dale, Reader in Political Economy, Brunel University, UK
"Social ecology is further developed by Éric Pineault with this fascinating theoretical and empirical study. He shows how capital as a social relation exercises its domination - and how contested this is. A must read for scholars, students, activists, progressive politicians and the interested public!" Ulrich Brand, University of Vienna, co-author of the book The Imperial Mode of Living. Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of Capitalism
"Eric Pineault's book is a true Capital in the 21st Century. One where ecology matters." Giorgos Kallis, ICREA Professor, ICTA-UAB.
"Applying biophysical accounting methods from social ecology, Pineault analyses the metabolism of capitalism. It provides important lessons for scholars and activists about the root causes of ongoing environmental crises and the need for an encompassing social ecological transformation." Christoph Görg, Institute of Social Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
Table of Contents
1. The Material Flow
2. Nature's Work: The Ecology of the Material Flow
3. Metabolic Regimes in a Historical Perspective
4. Fossil Based Industrial Metabolism
5. On Capitalist Metabolism
6. Accumulation and Social Metabolism in the Great Capitalist Acceleration
Conclusion: Emancipation amid the Ruins of Fossil Metabolism