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Global Development Institute

How do we value development, the environment and conservation? Book out now.

23 October 2018

A new book edited by Sarah Bracking, Aurora Fredrikson, Phil Woodhouse, and Sian Sullivan challenges the dominance of economics as the measure of all value.

Entitled Valuing Development, Environment and Conservation: creating values that matter, the book examines how economic valuations are designed and enacted in practice, and considers how economic value is produced and circulated in specific settings.

It explores the production of markets and prices, as well as more general economic framings of value, in domains where value(s) were previously framed in non-economic terms. In exploring the emergence of newly economic values though a variety of case studies, the book addresses the calculation and quantification of value, legitimacy, and care, as well as to the implications of quantification of value on human and beyond-human worlds.

Featuring chapters by Global Development Institute’s Phil Woodhouse and alumni Robert Watt, Fortunate Machingura and  Jonas Bruun, the new publication considers some of the limits, hazards and consequences of the intensifications of economisation processes involving carbon, ‘ecosystem services’, commonly held land, and human lives, among others. The authors explore the consequences of assigning prices to fields such as international development and health.

Many of the authors argue against the inevitability of further economitisation of the natural world. The book argues against simply accepting economic value on its own terms: as a type of value that can be rationally assessed and assigned, however detrimentally or unethically. This situation, the contributors argue, is a reflection of the power of economics, statistics and numeric judgements. That the public is often so accepting of economic forms of valuation demonstrates the power of the field of economics in modern culture.

This book builds on research conducted through a project called the Leverhulme Centre for the Study of Value.

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