all 121 posts

As our work progresses, publications are arising from our research themes and cross-cutting projects. A list of CUSP publications to date can be accessed below.

Confronting inequality in a post-growth world – Basic income, factor substitution and the future of work | Working Paper No 11
Piketty argued that slow growth rates inevitably lead to rising inequality. If true, this hypothesis would pose serious challenges for a ‘post-growth’ society. Fiscal responses to this dilemma include Piketty’s own suggestion to tax capital assets and more recent suggestions to provide a universal basic income that would allow even the poorest in society to meet basic needs.
A Theory of Change Approach for Measuring Economic Welfare Beyond GDP | Working Paper No 10
It is widely acknowledged that GDP is not a suitable measure of economic welfare. In this paper, Simon Mair, Christine Corlet Walker and Angela Druckman propose a novel framework for indicator development: the ‘Theory of Change’ approach — a causal model approach in which the relationships between system inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes of the economy are explicitly articulated, and can be used to identify theoretically sound indicators for economic welfare.
Forging connections: Review of The Progress of this Storm and General Ecology | By Richard Douglas
How should we understand the relationship between nature and society, now that we have entered that condition known as the Anthropocene? Two new books offer radically opposing views on this question—though, as Richard Douglas finds, both remain prisoners of post-Kantian metaphysics.
The role of government policy in financing early stage green innovation | Journal Paper by R Owen, G Brennan and F Lyon
This paper focuses on the role of the public sector in addressing finance gaps for longer-term investment requirements from seed investment through to early growth commercialisation of green innovation activities. Peer reviewed literature is identified from international studies, complemented by illustrative policy documents where evidence of impact is reported.
Anthropocene Dreams — Review of The Ends of The World | By Jana Bacevic
If the Anthropocene had an intellectual mixtape, The Ends of the World would be a worthy candidate, Jana Bacevic finds. The book presents perspectives on the end of the world beyond the Western-centric view, to include those for whom the world has already ended; providing valuable lessons. 
Economic Science Fictions | Edited by Will Davies
From the libertarian economics of Ayn Rand to Aldous Huxley’s consumerist dystopias, economics and science fiction have often orbited each other. In Economic Science Fictions, CUSP co-investigator Will Davies has deliberately merged the two worlds, asking how we might harness the power of the utopian imagination to revitalise economic thinking.
‘Everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile’ | Blog by Tim Jackson
Fifty years on from Robert Kennedy’s historic speech on the limitations of the GDP at the University of Kansas in March 1968, Tim Jackson reflects on the failings of measurement and vision which still haunt both economic policy and our everyday life.
Towards the New Normal — How to Increase Investment in the UK’s Green Infrastructure | Report
Strategic government intervention can maximise opportunities for private green infrastructure investment, our 'Investing in the Future' project report with the Aldersgate Group finds, setting out a full list of recommendations for government and industry.
Green Shoots from the Green Investment Bank, or a lost opportunity? | Blog by Fergus Lyon
The Green Investment Bank (GIB) was the UK government's flagship programme for the green economy. Investing into longterm low carbon infrastructure projects, it was set out to lead by example and attract private funds to follow suit. But what do we know about its actual impact?
Dance Me to the End of Love—An Economics for Tomorrow | Guest blog by Alan Simpson
Any economics that defines the time given to human interaction as negative productivity has lost the plot, Alan Simpson writes in his guest blog. The economy of tomorrow must be built around people and their inbuilt kindness and decency.
Writing A Better Future | Guest Blog by Denise Baden
Most of us feel it: the future doesn't look too bright. Dark future visions such as the Black Mirror series feed into our anxieties; the global news and climate change discourse create further avoidance. What we need, Denise Baden argues, are positive visions that allow transformative solutions to be showcased and played out—a kind of product placement for sustainability.
Carillion may have collapsed, but public-private partnerships can be so much more | Guest blog by Pete Barbrook-Johnson
Concerns around private companies delivering under par public services have long been aired. The collapse of Carillon, a long-standing contractor to the UK government did only worsen the picture. We should take advantage of this public ‘crisis’ in PPP, Pete Barbook-Johnson writes, not to consign them to the neoliberal history books, but to reimagine and improve them.
Sustainable What, Why, and for Whom: Learning from Moral Philosophy | Blog by Will Davies
These are turbulent times, the fault lines within modern capitalism are widening. Yet, Will Davies finds, where one economic model becomes less certain, we can open up a much wider range of questions about what progress, prosperity and welfare actually mean: this is the right moment to interrogate the meaning and moral dimensions of prosperity.
There’s no political pressure to act on climate. So how are MPs responding? | Blog by Rebecca Willis
The electorate are not asking their representatives to act on climate change, research by CUSP fellow Rebecca Willis indicates. This presents a fundamental dilemma for politicians who understand the urgency. How can they square this circle?
Green infrastructure: the landscape of sustainability | Guest blog by Michael Wilkins
Sustainable infrastructure is key to the low-carbon transition, Michael Wilkins argues in this guest blog — it mitigates the effects of climate change and helps protect communities from its impact. Unlocking private finance for this will be vital.
Promethean Planetary Care – Review of Oliver Morton’s The Planet Remade | by Nick Taylor
What if geoengineering were envisaged as a utopian project of care? Oliver Morton’s The Planet Remade is a call for enlightened readership. It is an invitation to step up our thinking on the ethical questions around geoengineering.
Everyday Culture and the Good Life | Working Paper No 9
The purpose of this paper is to prepare the ground for a strand of work in CUSP which aims to look at the role of culture in everyday life, and in doing so to understand how it might operate as an element of sustainable prosperity. The paper considers the basis on which we might start to think about new legitimations for cultural policy and a fuller understanding of its potential for living well with less.
The art of the good life: culture and sustainable prosperity | Journal paper by Kate Oakley and Jon Ward
This paper analyses the potential for cultural work to encourage alternative visions of the “good life”, in particular, how it might encourage a kind of “sustainable prosperity” wherein human flourishing is not linked to high levels of material consumption but rather the capabilities to engage with cultural and creative practices and communities.
Green Finance | Alex White giving evidence to EAC, 16 January 2018
On 16 January 2018, CUSP research fellow Alex White gave evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee on their green finance inquiry. Based on our research with the Aldersgate Group, Alex White argued for the need to create an attractive low carbon investment environment in the UK if we are to see the real benefits of a growing green finance industry.
Finance in the Anthropocene | Blog by Nick Taylor
Risk is our society’s dominant way of governing the future in order to tame uncertainty. This is the case not only for financial crises but also for our responses to global environmental crises. The dominant risk management approach focusses on the prospect of financial devaluation and instability induced by climate change. But the kinds of calculation that are ultimately most pressing relate to how we might consider the financial system as an ecological regime itself.
Prosperity Is…? | A Research Log by S Venn, K Burningham, K Skippon and T Jackson
What can prosperity possibly mean in a world of environmental and social limits? This question lies at the heart of CUSP’s five year research programme on sustainable prosperity. We wanted to know how ordinary people in different contexts might answer this question, so we set out to ask them. What we found was fascinating.
Could the investment system contribute to sustainable prosperity? | Blog by Charles Seaford
While some investors put pressure on some companies to act in a more sustainable or socially just way, as yet this is at the margin. In this post, Charles Seaford suggests that this pressure could move centre stage, and that changes to, and clarifications of, fiduciary duty could play a part in this.
Not the City of Culture — Blog by Mark Ball
Early December 2017 Stoke-on-Trent was one of four cities not to win the title of UK City of Culture 2021. This may have been drowned out by the ongoing noise of European Capital of Culture uncertainty, but it was big news for Coventry who now follow Hull and Derry~Londonderry to hold the award. In this blog, Mark Ball is reflecting on not winning City of Culture.
Christmas, Consumerism and Confusion | Blog by Jonathan Rowson
Christmas is the season of shallow critique, Jonathan Rowson finds. We lament the commercialisation around us as if it were a seasonal problem, but lurking inside the wrapped presents, juicy puddings and roasted birds there are deeper questions about ethical drift and the social logic of our entire economic model.
The Social Effects of Global Trade | New book w chapter by Simon Mair, Angela Druckman and Tim Jackson
As part of a new compilation of groundbreaking work on social indicators, Simon Mair, Angela Druckman and Tim Jackson have contributed a chapter examining how globalisation since 1990 has shaped fairness in the Western European clothing supply chain.
Social Limits To Growth – Lessons for a post-crash economy | Blog by Caroline Lucas and Tim Jackson
On 13 November 2017, the APPG on Limits to Growth hosted an evening debate at the House of Commons, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the publication of Social Limits to Growth by Fred Hirsch. Caroline Lucas and Tim Jackson reflect on the continuing relevance of his ground-breaking work.
In Defence of Degrowth — A Comment by Simon Mair
The concept of 'degrowth' is politically infeasible, according to a recent article by Branko Milanović. In this blog, Simon Mair argues that ‘degrowth’ is no less unrealistic than the alternatives.
Sustainable Prosperity and Democracy—A Research Agenda | Working Paper No 8
As environmental crises become ever more severe, calls for authoritarian solutions are reappearing: Democracy, so the argument goes, has proven to be too slow to respond to urgent threats. In this paper, Marit Hammond and Graham Smith respond to this charge by revisiting the role of democracy within a transition to sustainable prosperity.
Meritocracy vs. Social Cohesion: A Review of The Acting Class (UK, 2017)—By Anthony Killick
The latest documentary from D O’Neill and M Wayne highlights the barriers faced by working class actors attempting to pursue cultural work. The film exposes the fraudulence behind some of the central tenets of neoliberal meritocracy, Anthony Killick finds, particularly the idea that arts and cultural jobs are equally accessible to all on a “level playing field”.
Why do we still worship at the altar of economic growth? | Blog by Donald Hirsch
Forty years ago, Fred Hirsch pointed to a crucial flaw in the emphasis on growth as a central objective in western economies. His seminal book made the case that in addition to ecological limits, there are important social constraints at play. In this blog, his son Prof Donald Hirsch is arguing that these limitations became ever more relevant today.
Engaging the imagination | Journal paper by Kate Oakley, Jon Ward and Ian Christie
This paper explores the potential of 'new nature writing' – a literary genre currently popular in the UK – as a kind of arts activism, in particular, how it might engage with the environmental crisis and lead to a kind of collective politics.
Sustainable Consumption in Early Motherhood | Journal Paper by Kate Burningham and Sue Venn
In their new paper for the Journal of Consumer Ethics, Kate Burningham and Sue Venn suggest there is a need for greater attention to the gender and relational dimensions of environmentally sustainable practice, and for promotion of holistic discourses of sustainable consumption which align sustainable living with the maintenance of family life.
The Good Life?—Review of Monbiot’s Out of the Wreckage | By Richard Douglas
George Monbiot has produced an encouraging manifesto for political transition to a happier, more sustainable world. Yet, Richard Douglas finds, his vision of the good life is undermined by an unresolved tension surrounding ideas of individualism.
Why we’ve never had it so good, yet everything has to change | Blog by Jonathan Rowson
We need a more conscious society, CUSP fellow Jonathan Rowson finds, and work “towards a level of depth, insight and abstraction that connects human nature and experience with societal meaning and purpose”—in the context, he writes, of a shared curiosity towards reality as a whole.
Moments of Change—Opportunities for moving to more sustainable consumption? | Working Paper No 7
The idea that lifecourse transitions might offer ‘moments of change’ in which to encourage more sustainable consumption is popular, yet insights from the sociological literature on lifecourse transitions have rarely been brought to bear on this assumption. This paper focuses on two distinct lifecourse transitions - becoming a mother and retirement – and through qualitative longitudinal research evaluates the assumption that such periods provide opportunities for movement to more sustainable consumption.
This new world—Reframing the distribution of rewards | Huffington Post Blog by Tim Jackson
Remember trickle-down theory? It’s the rose-tinted notion that economic growth is the only way to bring poor people out of poverty and reduce the inequality that divides society and undermines political solidarity. It’s not working and our choices are clear: Either we endure the rising instability and fractured politics of a deeply unequal world, or we build a new vision of a shared prosperity.
Life beyond Capital | Essay by John O’Neill
The language of capital penetrates social and environmental policy discussions at local, national and international level. Yet its appeal, John O’Neill argues, is premised on a fundamental misunderstanding of prosperity. The treatment of nature as capital is not a solution to the problems of environmental loss. Rather, it is part of the problem.
A fair days wage for a fair days work? | Blog by Simon Mair
The people who make our clothes are paid very low wages. We instinctively feel that this is unfair, but it can be hard to articulate why this is. Even harder, is saying what can be done about it. Summarising his recent journal article with Tim Jackson and Angela Druckman, Simon Mair uses the living wage as a basis for claims about fairness, and discuss regional collective bargaining as a solution to unfair wages.
Money might grow on trees: Investing in natural capital to improve resilience | Blog by Alex White
As the full extent of the damages from recent natural disasters are calculated across the Caribbean and the Southern United States and Lloyds of London begins paying out $4.5bn of claims, there is a stronger argument than ever to invest in natural capital as a way of improving resilience, Alex White finds.
Innovation for wellbeing—social enterprises developing creative alternatives to conventional services | Blog by Fergus Lyon
In the UK, community health and wellbeing services are experiencing pressures of increasing need and resource constraints. A new CEEDR publication in Research Policy shows how social enterprises can develop innovative responses to help address the challenges faced.