A deprioritization of economic growth in policy making in the rich countries will need to be part of a global effort to re-embed economy and society into planetary boundaries. However, societal support for a degrowth transition remains for the time being moderate, and it is not well understood as yet why this is the case. This article argues that Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology can help theorize societal stability and transformational change as well as the preconditions for a degrowth transition. The point of departure is the structure/action debate in sociology highlighting Bourdieu’s middle-ground position. Using his theory of practice, it moves on to analyze the predominating correspondence between structure, habitus, and action as well as the preconditions under which this correspondence may break and result in transformational change. Subsequently, his distinction of “doxa,” “orthodoxy,” and “heterodoxy” is applied to understand possible solutions to the multidimensional crisis of contemporary European societies. The last section addresses Bourdieu’s take on the role that researchers and activists may play during such a transition. The article concludes that in order to facilitate degrowth, formulations of eco-social policy strategies should avoid overburdening people’s experiences and immediate expectations of the future. Deliberative citizen forums can help co-develop and upscale such initiatives as well as broaden their social basis.
Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, vol. 16(1)