Abstract: Harmful environmental consequences of growth have been rigorously documented and widely publicized throughout the past half-century. Yet, the quantity of matter and energy used by human economies continues to increase by the minute, while governments and businesses continue to promise and to prioritize further economic growth. Such a paradox raises questions about how we humans change course. This introduction to a Special Section offers a new theoretical approach to change, together with glimpses of adaptations underway around the world. It directs attention away from individual decision-making and toward systems of culture and power through which socialized humans and socioecological worlds are (re)produced, sustained and adapted. Potential for transformative change is found in habitual practices through which skills, perspectives, denials and desires are viscerally embodied, and in cultural systems (economic, religious, gender and other) that govern those practices and make them meaningful. Case studies reviewed illuminate diverse communities acting to maintain old and to forge new moral and material worlds that prioritize well-being, equity and sustainability rather than expansion. This article endeavors to galvanize change by conceptualizing degrowth, by decolonizing worldviews of expansionist myths and values, and by encouraging connections between science and activism, north and south.
This is the introductory article in Lisa L. Gezon and Susan Paulson (eds.) 2017. “Degrowth, culture and power”, Special Section of the Journal of Political Ecology, 24: 425-666.
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> Eric Hirsch. 2017. The unit of resilience: unbeckoned degrowth and the politics of (post)development in Peru and the Maldives. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 462-475.
> Ritu Verma. 2017. Gross National Happiness in Bhutan: meaning, measure and degrowth in a living development alternative. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 476-490.
> Jonathan Otto. 2017. Finding common ground: exploring synergies between degrowth and environmental justice in Chiapas, Mexico. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 491-503.
> Ragnheiður Bogadóttir and Elisabeth Skarðhamar Olsen. 2017. Making degrowth locally meaningful: the case of the Faroese grindadráp. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 504-518.
> Joshua Lockyer. 2017. Community, commons, and degrowth at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 519-542.
> Amy Cox Hall. 2017. Neo-monastics in North Carolina, de-growth and a theology of enough. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 543-565.
> Eeva Berglund. 2017. Steering clear of politics: local virtues in Helsinki’s design activism. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 566-581.
> Lisa L. Gezon. 2017. Beyond (anti)utilitarianism: khat and alternatives to growth in northern Madagascar. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 582-594.
> Emma McGuirk. 2017. Timebanking in New Zealand as a prefigurative strategy within a wider degrowth movement. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 595-609
> Ulrich Demmer and Agata Hummel. 2017. Degrowth, anthropology, and activist research: the ontological politics of science. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 610-622.
> Alf Hornborg. 2017. How to turn an ocean liner: a proposal for voluntary degrowth by redesigning money for sustainability, justice, and resilience. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 623-632.
> Karen Foster. 2017. Work ethic and degrowth in a changing Atlantic Canada. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 633-643.
> Jonathan DeVore. 2017. Trees and springs as social property: a perspective on degrowth and redistributive democracy from a Brazilian squatter community. Journal of Political Ecology 24: 644-666.