What is Degrowth?
“Generally degrowth challenges the hegemony of growth and calls for a democratically led redistributive downscaling of production and consumption in industrialised countries as a means to achieve environmental sustainability, social justice and well-being. Although integrating bioeconomics and ecological macroeconomics, degrowth is a noneconomic concept. On the one hand, degrowth is the reduction of energy and material throughput, needed in order to face the existing biophysical constraints (in terms of natural resources and ecosystem’s assimilative capacity). On the other, degrowth is an attempt to challenge the omnipresence of market-based relations in society and the growth-based roots of the social imaginary replacing them by the idea of frugal abundance. It is also a call for deeper democracy, applied to issues which lie outside the mainstream democratic domain, like technology. Finally, degrowth implies an equitable redistribution of wealth within and across the Global North and South, as well as between present and future generations.”
From Demaria, F., Schneider, F., Sekulova, F., Martinez-Alier, J. 2013. What is Degrowth? From an Activist Slogan to a Social Movement. Environmental Values 22 (2013): 191–215.
“Degrowth” has emerged over the last 10 years. This “bomb word” has been used to open in-depth debates on whether infinite growth in a finite world is desirable or even possible. Degrowth first deconstructs the myth that growth is the central solution for the impasse our capitalist, productivist and consumerist societies have led us to. The movement tries to understand the convergence of the crises we are experiencing and argues that energetic, political and existential, economic and social and various environmental crises like climate change are interconnected. Our society’s “more and more” attitude and the push towards increased production and consumption is not sustainable as we are now facing global warming, biodiversity loss, and the end of cheap and easy extraction and production of raw materials such as fossil energies and metals – in particular the ones used in renewable energies. Our model of development has not been able to respond to rising inequalities and unemployment. GDP growth or just a quantitative reading is far from implementing a meaningful and emancipating life for all. So degrowth warns about a potential crisis of civilization and answers this by exploring alternative and coherent solutions.
Useful links and readings
Videos and Lectures on Degrowth