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Abstract: We analyse comparative findings for 18 European ‘old’ and ‘new’ democracies, based on ISSP survey data from 2011. Indices originally constructed for this analysis reveal comparative insights into the potential within different societies for supporting policies and practices conducive to a sustainability switch. The authors initially confirm the so-called ‘prosperity thesis’ (Franzen and Meyer 2010), which suggests that individuals in wealthier societies more readily commit to respect for environmental limits at the level of their concern and behaviour. However, at the societal level the environment vs. growth trade-off does not show a corresponding dependence on levels of income. In fact, other factors such as the level of income inequality, presence of an ‘environmentalism of the poor’ and support for redistributive policies nationally and globally are shown to be at play. Finally, the analysis suggests that the prevalence of the normative framework of (neo)liberal capitalism among European countries influences their respective populations’ pro-environmental degrowth-conducive behaviour.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session “Degrowth in post-socialist European countries” at the 4th International Degrowth Conference in Leipzig in 2014.