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In order to advance our understanding on the potential synthesis and complementarity of strategies for purposive degrowth transformation, there is a need to examine more closely those institutions that “put us in the best position to do more later” (Wright 2013: 21), and those practices that can, at the same time, survive and root in the present system, but also prefigure and embody alternative forms of social relations. The aim of this contribution is to explore the interplay between strategies for transformation, focusing on the notions of concrete utopias (or nowtopias) and non-reformist reform.

Concrete utopias (Levitas 1990) or nowtopias (Carlsson & Manning 2010), are essentially alternative society or institution-building initiatives that simultaneously anticipate and effect desired-for futures – such as degrowth. They are seen to embody an alternative model of societal organisation in practice and, in an instance of commoning, have the capacity to promote the creation of a collective political subject. In order to avoid ending-up becoming mere “exit strategies”, it is useful to link nowtopian practices to Gorz’s (1967) idea of non-reformist reform, i.e. reforms that are applicable to, but incompatible with the preservation of the current system, and imply a modification of the relations of power. This contribution will reflect on the relevance of non-reformist reforms and nowtopias for purposive degrowth transformations, highlighting the critical role of work and democracy.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Strategies for purposive degrowth transformations “ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.