Version 3.2_September 2016

Academic Special Session: Debating work in a degrowth society.

Which, how and what for?

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How can work be conceptualised and organised in a Degrowth society? This is a crucial question, given the importance of labour and work for our daily lives as well as for any social economic system. This special session covers the question in an interactive way, facilitated by an interdisciplinary group of researchers from all over Europe. We begin with a participatory introduction, revolving around the meaning of work and its features and properties, followed by five short inputs from our own research. These two elements inform the centrepiece of the session: an inclusive and in-depth fishbowl discussion, encouraging all participants to share their knowledge, ideas, and creativity. Together we will envision how work could and should be organised in a Degrowth society, and how this can be put into practice given different regional and societal backgrounds.
The abovementioned five inputs from our own research represent mere spotlights on current ideas and practice, and cover the following topics:
1) A new theoretical definition of work and “sustainable” work, based on the eco-feminist concept of (Re)productivity and the human scale to development approach.
2) A critique of the “disutility theory of labour” of orthodox economics, presenting a notion of work that includes non-instrumental values (identity and playfulness) next to mere monetary benefits.
3) Three empirical investigations around time use and work time reduction (WTR) that address the conditions needed for WTR to be successful; linkages between time use and resource use; and Zeitwohlstand (or being “time wealthy”) in post-growth firms.