Title: Critical realism, feminisms, and degrowth: a plea for metatheory-informed pluralism in feminist ecological economics

Authors: Corinna Dengler

Addresses: Department for Socioeconomics, Institute for Multi-Level Governance and Development, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Vienna, Austria

Abstract: In this paper, I defend the view that pluralism in economics needs to be metatheory-informed and that critical social scientists must reflect upon their underlying ontological, epistemological, methodological, and ethical assumptions. As a feminist ecological economist interested in making degrowth (more) feminist, I ask to what extent a critical realist metatheory can 'philosophically underlabour' a feminist degrowth approach. This paper introduces critical realism (CR) and critically examines it in ecological economics, degrowth, and feminist economics debates. Subsequently, I draw on the example of care to show how a CR metatheory can elucidate how the deep, underlying structure of separation in economics is responsible for the devaluation of care. I conclude that if combining a realist-relational ontology, an intersectional and postcolonial feminist standpoint epistemology, critical methodological pluralism, and an ethical foundation centring around the sustainability of life, a CR metatheory can serve a feminist degrowth approach well.

Keywords: critical realism; degrowth; feminist economics; ecological economics; feminist ecological economics; FEE; metatheory; philosophy of science; metatheory-informed pluralism; normative foundations; sustainability of life.

DOI: 10.1504/IJPEE.2022.124571

International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education, 2022 Vol.13 No.1, pp.23 - 42

Accepted: 09 Jan 2022
Published online: 28 Jul 2022 *

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