In the light of social and environmental unsustainability and injustice, scholars from geography and neighboring disciplines question incumbent socioeconomic trajectories. Empirical evidence renders the continuing attachment to a growth‐based economy and its reconcilability with ecological limits increasingly implausible. Instead, a lively transdisciplinary debate explores alternative forms of organization beyond (economic) growth and (capital) accumulation, evolving around concepts such as degrowth and postcapitalism. These approaches propose a reflective recalibration of economic, political, and social institutions to support a temporally and spatially equitable, sustainable, and dignified survival of the human and of nonhuman species. Scholarship on transformation, however, is challenged to formulate how change beyond growth‐dependent and “capitalist” modes of social organization might unfold. It is trapped between the double utopia of the current situation: While it is clearly an illusion that society can continue along the present trajectory, fundamental change beyond capitalism seems equally implausible. Based on an extensive review of current literature, this paper looks at the largely independent debates on degrowth and postcapitalism and puts both strands of scholarship in conversation with each other. In doing so, it identifies difficulties of both literatures to formulate scenarios how a transformation beyond accumulation and growth might unfold. Turning to geographical thinking on scale and site as discussed in human geography of late, then, the paper traces hitherto unearthed potential in these spatial concepts for research on sustainability‐oriented transformation. It closes with further thoughts on a transformative geographies research agenda.
Geography Compass, e12470, 2019