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Individual Paper: Articulating degrowth as a normative position for alternative organisation

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As relentless growth both pushes our planet toward potentially irreversible ecological boundaries (Steffen et al, 2015) and causes our society to experience greater inequality and wealth concentration (Piketty, 2014), there must be a “repoliticization” of growth-oriented capitalism as the only plausible system for organising social relations; alternative visions for the future must enter the realm of political debate (Swyngedouw, 2015). The emerging social, political and academic movement of degrowth not only challenges this prevailing growth discourse, but also offers one such alternative vision. A widely-cited work (D’Alisa et al, 2015) frames degrowth as emerging from several intellectual origins, consisting in core theoretical ideas, comprising a variety of existing actions, and developing in alliance with other movements. While there is increasing empirical interest in these existing actions, so-called ‘living examples,” of degrowth (D’Alisa et al, 2015:xxi), there has been few theoretical interventions seeking to understand forms of organising and organisation in a degrowth context. This paper explores the critical management studies (CMS) concept of “alternative organisation,” theorised as radically different approaches to structuring social arrangements that are guided by principles such as autonomy, cooperation and responsibility (Parker et al, 2014), as a starting point for understanding degrowth forms of organising and organisation.

Both alternative organisation and degrowth are defined in opposition to traditional hegemonic (capitalist) organisation and growth discourse (Fournier, 2008; Cheney, 2014). Likewise, they exhibit similar theoretical origins, comparable principles, and overlapping empirical examples (Parker et al, 2007; 2014; D’Alisa et al, 2015). Despite these similarities, while degrowth continues to develop a – contested – vision for the future at various economic, social, political, organisational and spatial scales, the normative position of alternative organisation remains unclear. While this remark was recently made about CMS (Parker and Parker, 2017), the authors problematically ignore this ambiguity in relation to alternative organisation itself. In other words, toward what should alternative organisation aim? This paper argues that degrowth, although still evolving as a coherent normative framework, articulates a potential normative position for alternative organisation. This, in turn, enables a conceptualisation of degrowth forms of organising and organisation. Building on these conceptual contributions, empirical implications are considered.


Day: 2018-08-24
Start time: 14:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: Nöjesteatern (Piano bar)
Track: Organisational and Organising Practices



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