The OECD and the Hegemony of Growth

The 400 page book can be downloaded from this dropbox folder.

In modern society, economic growth is considered to be the primary goal pursued through policy-making. But when and how did this perception become widely adopted among social scientists, politicians, and the general public? Focusing on the OECD, one of the least understood international organizations, Schmelzer offers the first transnational study to chart the history of growth discourses. He reveals how the pursuit of GDP growth emerged as a societal goal and the ways in which the methods employed to measure, model, and prescribe growth resulted in statistical standards, international policy frameworks, and widely accepted norms. Setting his analysis within the context of capitalist development, postwar reconstruction, the Cold War, decolonization, and industrial crisis, The Hegemony of Growth sheds new light on the continuous reshaping of the growth paradigm up to the neoliberal age and adds historical depth to current debates on climate change, inequality, and the limits to growth.

Matthias Schmelzer is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zürich, Switzerland

Table of Contents

List of figures and tables page vii
Acknowledgments viii
List of abbreviations xi

Introduction 1

Setting the stage: a historical introduction to the OECD 34

Part I Paradigm in the making: the emergence of economic growth as the key economic policy norm (1948–1959) 75

1 Measuring growth: the international standardization of national income accounting 85
2 Propagating growth: from reconstruction and stability to “selective expansion” and “productivity” 117
3 “Expand or die”: international economic mandarins and the transnational harmonization of growth policies 142

Part II Paradigm at work: a “temple of growth for industrialized countries” in action (19601968) 163

4 Power, progress, and prosperity: growth as universal yardstick and the OECD’s 1961 growth target in
perspective 167
5 Boosting growth: the Western “growth conscience” and social engineering in the name of accelerated growth 189
6l Replicating growth: the “development of others” and the hegemony of donor countries 215

Part III Paradigm in discussion: the “problems of modernsociety,” environment, and welfare (19691974) 239

7 Quantity in question: challenging the hegemony of growthand the OECD-Club of Rome nexus 245
8 Reclaiming growth: organizational dynamics and the“dialectic” of qualitative growth 267
9 Quantifying quality: managing the environmental costs ofgrowth and the difficult quest for “gross national well-being” 288

Epilogue: paradigm remade (19752011) 313

Conclusion: provincializing growth 336

Archival sources and select bibliography 359

Index 375

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