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Individual Paper: Living Degrowth – a transformative endeavour?

Investigating degrowth practices as pathways to sustainability

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This article is in preparation for submission to the journal "Sustainability Science", hence we refer to sustainability science as a field of science our work engages with.


Our world is experiencing accelerated ecological destruction and social injustices on different scales and multiple levels. Unchecked economic growth has been criticised as causing this since the 1970s, but the dominant sustainable development paradigm has perpetuated the belief that economic growth and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand. In response degrowth has emerged in the last decade as a frame for a re-politicized, re-radicalized critique of capitalist growth-society, and as a proposal for radical change. However, to achieve such change more people need to become transformative agents.

While degrowth literature portrays an awareness of this problem, the question how more people can be encouraged for a degrowth future remains challenging. This article relates to this challenge with the aim of making degrowth thinking more accessible and tangible by understanding how degrowth is viewed and enacted through the lens of the subject. Drawing upon practice theory, we investigate degrowth as a lived experience, uncovering practices of living for a new era.

This study is informed by critical participatory action research and based on insights gathered through performative methods – a novel research approach in sustainability science. These methods were applied in a two-day participatory theatre-workshop with members of a degrowth reading group in Barcelona. In addition we draw upon extensive interviews with three degrowth-scholars.

Overall this research provides a preliminary account of living degrowth by portraying a diverse range of interrelated practices grouped in five spheres: (1) Rethinking society, (2) Acting political, (3) Creating alternatives, (4) Fostering connections and (5) Unveiling the self. Multiple ideas that guide these practices were identified, with social justice and ecological sustainability at the core. Drawing upon the spheres of practices we conceptualize living degrowth as an endeavour that transforms problematic realities into imagined futures in multiple realms. The transformative practices of living degrowth are concerned with theoretical, political, material, economical, social and personal dimensions of world and life. This points to the importance for sustainability science to investigate and foster transformations in all domains and at all levels, reaching from the outer to the inner and vice versa.


Day: 2018-08-22
Start time: 14:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: Nöjesteatern (Piano bar)
Track: Subjectivities, Values, Ideas and Satisfactions



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