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Academic Special Session: “Backward” common senses from the European semi-periphery – challenging degrowth of the core?

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Academic Special Session Proposal
6th International Conference on Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity
Malmö 2018

Title: “Backward” common senses from the European semi-periphery – challenging degrowth of the core?
Event type: Academic Special Session
Theme: The Pluriverse: Articulating Alternatives to development


In the search for more sustainable metabolic patterns, via concept of common senses and world-systems theory, the discussion of this panel will further politicize the definition of degrowth by recasting socio-institutional common senses (D’Alisa and Kallis 2016) in relation to the hierarchy of material and ideological flows between European core and post-communist Eastern European semi-periphery (Domazet and Ančić 2017). The session is fundamentally framed by the critical presentation of the Gramscian notion of common senses, the so-called folklore of philosophy, sitting half-way between the folklore, prevalent in selected social groups and the philosophy, science and economics of appointed specialists (cf. Hoare and Nowell Smith 1971). Within this framing, we aim to illustrate some instances of counter-hegemonic common senses, and expose the roots of the hegemonic ones, found in the European semi-periphery.

We propose to start with a theoretical introduction to the concept of common senses and its role in the transformation of the socio-institutional structure from a degrowth perspective. This is followed by the presentation of survey results from Croatia, Europe’s post-socialist south-east, on the prevalence of degrowth-compatible attitudes towards post-capitalist economics, environmental limits of growth and the anti-materialist turn. From Estonia, Europe’s post-socialist north-east, we present the case of food self-provisioning as an everyday form of resistance (Scott 1985) against economic, social and individual dimensions of the metabolic rift. Finally, in the reflection on the common senses prevalent in different expert communities in Croatia, we present the results of research into attitudes of early career scientists, across the disciplinary spectrum in Croatia.

We propose the groundwork for a synchronisation of appropriate common senses across Europe; for a shared vision of a thriving convivial society with reduced environmental and social exploitation, and thus provide more optimistic future scenarios for global core, semi-periphery and periphery alike. Against the prevalent “coloniality of power” (Quijano 2000) that reproduces the expectation that the semiperipheral states ought to simply emulate and “catch up” with the metabolic structure and volume of the “core” if they want to enjoy the benefits of emancipation hegemonic in the core self-presentation, this session aims to contribute to the orchestration of common senses around Europe, starting from the “backward” Europe.