Productivity and Prosperity: A Historical Sociology of Productivist Thought

By Karen R. Foster

© 2016

Despite Canada’s economic success over the past thirty years, the country’s ranking in productivity has continued to decline when compared to other industrialized nations. Economic experts and pundits repeatedly call for means of improving productivity, arguing that it is the lynchpin to prosperity. However, there is growing evidence to the contrary.

In Productivity and Prosperity, Karen Foster zeroes in on the paradox of productivity: that it is the key to economic prosperity and yet its connection to well-being and median incomes has all but disappeared.  Drawing together three case studies including the development of Statistics Canada, the National Productivity Council, and the evolution of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Foster argues that there is a ‘productivist regime’ guiding policy development in Canada and abroad. By analyzing and critiquing the inherent assumptions of productivism the author destabilizes the myth that economic growth is essential for quality of life.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

In Productivity and Prosperity, Karen Foster zeroes in on the paradox of productivity: that it is the key to economic prosperity and yet its connection to well-being and median incomes has all but disappeared.

Productivity and Prosperity: A Historical Sociology of Productivist Thought

By Karen R. Foster

© 2016

Despite Canada’s economic success over the past thirty years, the country’s ranking in productivity has continued to decline when compared to other industrialized nations. Economic experts and pundits repeatedly call for means of improving productivity, arguing that it is the lynchpin to prosperity. However, there is growing evidence to the contrary.

In Productivity and Prosperity, Karen Foster zeroes in on the paradox of productivity: that it is the key to economic prosperity and yet its connection to well-being and median incomes has all but disappeared.  Drawing together three case studies including the development of Statistics Canada, the National Productivity Council, and the evolution of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Foster argues that there is a ‘productivist regime’ guiding policy development in Canada and abroad. By analyzing and critiquing the inherent assumptions of productivism the author destabilizes the myth that economic growth is essential for quality of life.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    Productivity and Prosperity is a thoughtful and creative intellectual tour de force that challenges long-held assumptions and notions around productivity, and offers insights that challenge these prevailing assumptions.”


    Dimitry Anastakais, Professor of History, Trent University

    “Karen R. Foster effectively and persuasively brings together vastly diverse literatures in an ambitious study that forces us to think differently about fundamental questions of economic and social organization.”


    Fred Block, Research Professor of Sociology, UC Davis
  • Author Information

    Karen Foster is Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Rural Futures for Atlantic Canada and an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University.
  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgements

    Introduction

    1. The Discovery of Productivity

    2. Managing and Measuring Productivity

    3. The Dominion Bureau of Statistics

    4. The National Productivity Council

    5. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

    6. The Decline of Productivity?

    7. Conclusion: Productivity’s Future and the Limits of Growth

    Bibliography

    Notes

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