As the contributions to ecological economics are very diverse, recent years have seen some discussion on both how to delimit the field, and in which direction it should develop. The intention with this paper is to contribute to the discussion by outlining important trends in the development of the field from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. The study is inspired by other studies in the sociology and history of science, in particular by the theoretical framework regarding scientific fields as reputational organizations, which draws attention to both cognitive and social aspects of the formation of a field. The basis for the paper is a combination of literature studies, interviews with key researchers in the field, and 'participant observations'. The paper outlines the characteristic cognitive features of ecological economics at the time of the birth of the field. It is then described how the development in ecological economics was influenced by broader social factors during the following years, and how the field was shaped by the inflow and outflow of different groups of researchers. The emergence of different research programmes is outlined, as is the organizational development. Finally, the characteristics of ecological economics are summarized and the future prospects are briefly assessed.
|Publication status||Published - 2005|