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Mapping Economic Change (1): a Bibliometric Analysis of the Current State of Sustainable Economics Initiatives
Together with the arising awareness for the ecological and social effects of the current economic system, which have been extensively reported from the 70s, the financial crisis of 2008 was interpreted as a turning point for the search and creation of a new economic paradigm more stable and sustainable. Several proposals, both at the theoretical and grassroots level, emerged as possible alternatives, in some cases gaining worldwide visibility (for instance, the Peace Nobel Prize to Muhammad Yunus for Microcredit), in others helping localities to reorganize themselves and survive with parallel systems. The scope of this research is to map the state of the art of these initiatives of sustainable economics, which we defined as an economy with concern for environmental and social issues at its core, in the specific case of academic publications. We identified ten different keywords which resulted to be the current most relevant proposals and we used bibliometric tools based on online academic databases to collect data about the distribution and variation of these initiatives in the last 20 years. Moreover, we created citation network maps to measure and visualize the relatedness of the topics and the interconnection of their authors, using direct citations, bibliographic coupling and co-occurence of key words. As results, we found in general an increasing interest in the topics, especially after the financial crisis of 2008. Furthermore, the territorial distribution is mainly concentrated in some areas, which is reflected also by an affiliation-concentration around some key institutions. Finally, we found that in general the concerns of the different topics are quite similar and integrated, but the level of communication between the authors is low and polarized inside some clusters. As conclusion, we call for a stronger integration and communication among the different exponents of these initiatives, as well as for their unification under a common umbrella that reconnects the academic field with the existing local practices, creating a bridge between theory and practice of alternatives to the current system.