Contextual Economics

A process-relational intervention for personal and planetary wellbeing


  • Juliet Bennett University of Sydney


Process philosophy, Doughnut economics, Ecological economics, Politics Philosophy and Economics (PPE), Ecological civilisation, Personal and planetary wellbeing


Contextual economics weaves together aspects of orthodox and heterodox economics theories (e.g. feminist, ecological, Keynesian and Marxist economics) in such a way that (re)interprets formal economic models within changing social, historical and environmental contexts. Drawing from the work of Julie Nelson, Kate Raworth and process philosophers, this paper conceptualises the contextual economic paradigm as nesting static abstractions within changing contexts.  This brings into question the static metaphysics assumed by mainstream neo-classical economics, and presents an alternative basis for economics arising from process-relational metaphysics. This leads to an economics that: situates the economy as a subsystem of society and ecosystems; replaces Homo economicus with persons-in-communities; and redirects economic policies from profit and GDP growth to purpose and improving wellbeing. This shift in thinking, metaphysics and economics—nesting static in processes—is posited as a critical reorientation of economic decision-making for personal and planetary wellbeing.

Author Biography

Juliet Bennett, University of Sydney

Juliet is a Teaching Fellow at the University of Sydney, where she recently completed her PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies. Her research Process Thinking and its Application for a Sustainable Future explores the contributions of process philosophy to mitigating the climate crisis.


Achbar, Mark and Jennifer Abbott, ‘The Corporation’, Canada, Big Picture Media Corporation, 2004.

Adams, Edward S. and John H. Matheson, ‘A Statutory Model for Corporate Constituency Concerns’, Emory Law Journal, vol. 49, 2000, 1085-136.

Bainbridge, Stephen, et al., ‘Does the Law Allow Corporations to Pursue Social Goals over Shareholder Profits?’ [Accessed 23/6/19].

Bennett, Juliet, ‘Static in Process: A Key to Applying Process Philosophy for Ecological Civilization’, Process Studies, vol. 52, no. 1, 2023, 64-94.

Birch, Charles, On Purpose, Sydney, New South Wales University Press, 1990.

Boffey, Daniel, ‘Amsterdam to Embrace 'Doughnut' Model to Mend Post-Coronavirus Economy’, The Guardian, 8 Apr, 2020.

Collective, Community Economies, ‘Community Economies: Research and Practice’ [Accessed 27//6/19].

Coole, Diana H. and Samantha Frost (eds.), New Materialisms: Ontology, Agency, and Politics, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2010.

Daly, Herman E., Toward a Steady-State Economy, San Francisco, W.H. Freeman, 1973.

Daly, Herman E., ‘Steady-State Economics: A New Paradigm’, New Literary History, vol. 24, no. 4, 1993, 811-6.

Daly, Herman E., ‘On the Road to Disaster’, New Scientist, 18 October, 2008, 46-7.

Daly, Herman E., From Uneconomic Growth to a Steady-State Economy, Massachusetts, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015.

Daly, Herman E., ‘A New Economics for Our Full World’, in Peter A. Victor and Brett Dolter (eds.), Handbook on Growth and Sustainability, Cheltenham UK, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017, pp. 85-106.

Daly, Herman E. and John B. Cobb Jnr., For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future, Massachusetts, Beacon Press, 1989.

Daly, Herman E. and Joshua Farley, Ecological Economics, Washington DC, Island Press, 2004.

Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, London, Continuum, [1988] 2004.

Denning, Steve, ‘The Economist Defends 'the World's Dumbest Idea'’ Forbes Magazine (2016) [Accessed 20/01/19].

Ellsmoor, James, ‘New Zealand Ditches Gdp for Happiness and Wellbeing’ Forbes Magazine (2019) [Accessed 15/1/20].

Frank, Robert H., et al., ‘Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol. 7, no. 2, 1993, 159-71.

Friedman, Milton, Freedom and Capitalism, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 2002 [1962].

Gare, Arran, ‘Ecological Economics and Human Ecology’, in Michel Weber and Will Desmond (eds.), Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought, vol. 1, Frankfurt, Ontos Verlag, 2008.

Gare, Arran, The Philosophical Foundations of Ecological Civilization: A Manifesto for the Future, Milton, UK, Routledge, 2017.

Goodwin, Neva, et al., Macroeconomics in Context, 3rd Edition, London, Routledge, 2019.

Goodwin, Neva, et al., Microeconomics in Context, 3rd Edition, London, Routledge, 2014.

Goodwin, Neva, et al., Principles of Economics in Context, New York, Routledge, 2015.

Goodwin, Neva R., ‘You Can’t Beat Something with Nothing: Getting an Alternative into the Curriculum’, Review of Radical Political Economics, vol. 33, 2001, 335-42.

Hardin, Garrett, ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’, Science, vol. 162, no. 3859, 1968, 1243-8.

Hawken, Paul, Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, New York, Penguin, 2017.

IEP, ‘Global Peace Index 2020: Measuring Peace in a Complex World‘, Institute for Economics & Peace: Sydney, 2020, [Accessed 21/9/20].

Kahneman, Daniel, et al., ‘Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics’, Journal of Business, vol. 59, 1986, S286-S300.

Kubiszewski, Ida, et al., ‘Beyond Gdp: Measuring and Achieving Global Genuine Progress’, Ecological Economics, vol. 93, 2013, 57-68.

Latour, Bruno, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, Translated by Cathy Porter, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2018.

Mankiw, N. Gregory, Principles of Economics, 8th, Boston, Cengage Learning, 2016.

Marwell, Gerald and Ruth Ames, ‘Economists Free Ride, Does Anyone Else?’, Journal of Public Economics, vol. 15, 1981, 295-310.

Massumi, Brian, The Power at the End of the Economy, duke university Press, 2014.

Mazzucato, Mariana, The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public Vs. Private Sector Myths, London, Anthem, 2013.

McGilchrist, Iain, The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, London, Yale University Press, 2009.

Miller, Dale T., ‘The Norm of Self-Interest’, in John Deinhart, Dennis Moberg, and Ron Duska (eds.), The Next Phase of Business Ethics: Integrating Psychology and Ethics, vol. 3, United Kingdom, Elsevier Science Ltd., 2001, pp. 193-210.

Monbiot, George, Out of the Wreckage: A New Politics for an Age of Crisis, London, Verso, 2017.

Nelson, Julie A., ‘Confronting the Science/Value Split: Notes on Feminist Economics, Institutionalism, Pragmatism and Process Thought’, Cambridge Journal of Economics, vol. 27, no. 1, 2003, 49-64.

Nelson, Julie A., Economics for Humans, Chicago, University of Chicago, 2006.

Nelson, Julie A., ‘Really Radical Economics’, OpenDemocracy, 11 Nov, 2013.

Nelson, Julie A., ‘Is Dismissing Environmental Caution the Manly Thing to Do? Gender and the Economics of Environmental Protection’, Ethics & the Environment, vol. 20, no. 1, 2015, 99-122.

Nelson, Julie A., Economics for Humans, Second Edition, Chicago, University of Chicago, 2018.

Ostrom, Elinor, Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, Cambridge, UK, Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Ostrom, Elinor, ‘Institutions and the Environment’, Economic Affairs, vol. 28, no. 3, 2008, 24-31.

Prigogine, Ilya and Isabelle Stengers, The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature, New York, Free Press, 1997.

Randazzo, Anthony and Jonathan Haidt, ‘The Moral Narratives of Economists’, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 12, no. 1, 2015, 49-57.

Raworth, Kate, Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, London, Random House Business Books, 2017.

Rescher, Nicholas, Process Metaphysics: An Introduction to Process Philosophy, Albany, State University of New York Press, 1996.

Rockström, J., et al., ‘Planetary Boundaries: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity’, Ecology and Society, vol. 14, no. 2, 2009, 32 [online].

Salleh, Ariel, Ecofeminism as Politics: Nature, Marx and the Postmodern, 2nd, New York, Zed Books, 2017.

Sen, Amartya K., ‘Rational Fools: A Critique of the Behavioral Foundations of Economic Theory’, Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol. 6, no. 4, 1977, 317-44.

Shiva, Vandana, Who Really Feeds the World?: The Failures of Agribusiness and the Promise of Agroecology, Berkeley, C.A., North Atlantic Books, 2016.

Sjåfjell, Beate, et al., ‘Shareholder Primacy: The Main Barrier to Sustainable Companies’, in Beate Sjåfjell and Benjamin J. Richardson (eds.), Company Law and Sustainability: Legal Barriers and Opportunities, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 79-147.

Spano, Alessandro and John Martin, ‘Complementary Currencies: What Role Should They Be Playing in Local and Regional Government?’, Public Money & Management, vol. 38, no. 2, 2018, 139-46.

Stanford, Jim, Economics for Everyone: A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism, London, Pluto Press, 2008.

Stiglitz, Joseph E., ‘The Coming Great Transformation’, Journal of Policy Modeling vol. 39, 2017, 625-38.

Stiglitz, Joseph E., et al., ‘Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress‘, The Commission: Paris, 2009, .

Stilwell, Frank, ‘The Political Economy Challenge to Orthodoxy’, Labour & Industry: a journal of the social and economic relations of work, vol. 20, no. 3, 2010, 331-43.

Strine, Leo E., ‘The Dangers of Denial: The Need for a Clear-Eyed Understanding of the Power and Accountability Structure Established by the Delaware General Corporation Law’, Wake Forest Law Review, vol. 50, 2015, 761-93.

UN, Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 2015, A/RES/70/1, available at: [Accessed 2/12/19].

Wang, Long, et al., ‘Economics Education and Greed’, Academy of Management Learning & Education, vol. 10, no. 4, 2011, 643-60.

Weintraub, E. Roy, ‘Neoclassical Economics’, Library of Economics and Liberty [Accessed 15/1/20].

Whitehead, Alfred North, Science and the Modern World, New York, The Free Press, [1925] 1967.

Whitehead, Alfred North, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, Corrected Edition, Eds. David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne, New York, Free Press, [1929] 1978.




How to Cite

Bennett, J. (2023). Contextual Economics: A process-relational intervention for personal and planetary wellbeing. Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 19(2), 1–36. Retrieved from