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Circular economy as an essentially contested concept
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM).
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.), Sustainability and Industrial Dynamics.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5912-441X
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1185-3696
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4123-0721
2018 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 175, p. 544-552Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Circular Economy (CE) is currently a popular notion within the policy and business advocacy groups. Despite being visionary and provocative in its message, the research on the CE concept is emerging. The two intertwined objectives of the paper are; first to identify, discuss and develop the various definitions provided by the emerging literature. Secondly, to suggest an initial research approach with which research on CE can be conducted. Our analysis shows that the existing CE work is mainly done on the practical and technical levels of the actual physical flows of materials and energy in production-consumption systems. The focus of the extant literature is on concrete metrics, tools, instruments and computations. Therefore, the basic assumptions concerning the values, societal structures, cultures, underlying world-views and the paradigmatic potential of CE remain largely unexplored. We argue that CE has already become what Gallie (1955) more than six decades ago termed as an “essentially contested concept” (ECC). The paper further suggests a model for CE research that helps in the categorization, classification and organization of research and investigation on CE. The model can help in limiting the observed unbalance and enhance the contribution of the CE approach to a more sustainable global society.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2018. Vol. 175, p. 544-552
Keyword [en]
Sustainable development, Circular economy, Scientific research, Essentially contested concepts
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-220534DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.12.111ISI: 000423635500050Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85039866247OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-220534DiVA, id: diva2:1169089
Note

QC 20180117

Available from: 2017-12-22 Created: 2017-12-22 Last updated: 2018-02-16Bibliographically approved

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Korhonen, JouniNuur, CaliFeldmann, AndreasBirkie, Seyoum Eshetu
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