It is a pejorative term that is rarely acceptable to the individuals or ideologies it is purported to describe, although these same individuals and ideologies very often use phrases like "productivity", "growth", "economic sense" and "common sense" as if there was no argument against these concepts. Alan Greenspan and G. W. Bush have been criticized for productivism, although it is difficult to find any ruler or central banker in the modern world who has not been accused of favoring measurable growth factors over un-measurable ones. Critics of the idea of 'productivism' claim that it is up to the electorate, worker and purchaser to put values on their free time and decide whether to convert time or money to production or to consumption.
According to those who use the term 'productivism', the difference between themselves and the promoters of conventional neoclassical economics is that a productivist does not and cannot believe in the idea of "uneconomic growth", i.e. the productivist believes all growth is good, while the critic of productivism believes it can be more like cancer in a living thing, measurably growing but interfering with life processes.
The primary critics of productivism and its variants (capitalism, socialism, and some include libertarianism) are anarchists and Green parties. These challenge conventional notions of political economy and argue for more flexible systems of measuring well-being and a green economics that would be more compatible with living beings' bodies and activities. These views are often dismissed as 'utopian' by economists and political sciences, who often insist that there is no conflict between the role of the worker and of the citizen, father or mother. That is, that conventional economics and particularly macroeconomics already accounts for the relationship between productivity and the freedom to enjoy that productivity.
The key academic critic of productivism is probably Amartya Sen, winner of the 1999 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. His theory of "development as freedom" is one of several human development theories, that states that the growth of individual capital, that is, "talent", "creativity" and "personal ingenuity", is more significant than the growth of any more measurable quantity, e.g. production of products for commodity markets.
These theories have had a profound effect on the anti-globalization movement, which has often incorporated these ideas into its slogans along with ecological ideas, e.g. "We Can't Replace the Earth. The Earth is not for Sale.". This reflects the accusation that productivism devalues biodiversity, natural capital and the experience of life itself.