Economic growth and progress: a paradigmatic conflation

  • Grace Jean Garland
  • Morrison Myburgh John Business School
  • Piet Naudè Business School
Keywords: GDP, growth, progress measurement, paradigms, sustainability crisis, macroeconomics, scientific revolution


This paper uses a paradigmatic lens to conceptually explore the global sustainability crisis. To anchor what would otherwise be an abstract thought experiment, the discussion focuses on GDP, economic growth and progress measurement. By reviewing the extensive debate around GDP through a paradigmatic lens, the paper explores why the prevailing growth-centric paradigm is “in crisisâ€. More importantly, it suggests that the crisis is unlikely be resolved by human agency, unless the requisite convincing forces for a paradigm shift are present. Or, failing this, that aggravating sociological and/or ecological conditions over time could impel the shift to some new, hitherto-unimagined, paradigm.