Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Relations of Care: ethics and food production in Europe

Presentation [part of the standard session “Territories, Resources and Care Work Feminist Perspectives on Transformation“]

The Corona crisis has unprecedentedly highlighted the topic of this session: care work got visibility, its systemic relevance gained public recognition as never before. The appalling shortage of health care workers and the deficiencies in public health systems due to restructuring towards profit orientation and cost saving measures in the context of privatisation and globalisation became obvious. These systemic flaws aggravated the ongoing crisis of social reproduction towards a crisis of survival of societies. The pandemic also challenges the prevailing relation of human domination over nature and over bodies in the context of a growth-obsessed economy. The virus exposes the vulnerability of bodies and societies. It points at the destruction of ecosystems and of species due to the rapid expansion of industrial monocultures in agriculture, the encroachment of land, forest and water bodies. Thus, it shows the need to recognise the obstinacy of nature and to organise everyday life as a bio- and eco-social, and as a collective process saying farewell to the fiction of total control of nature. Therefore the crisis nurtures demands for a caring economy based on commons and oriented towards a good life for everybody. In everyday life people experienced that solidarity is an absolute necessity to cope with crisis situations. On the backdrop of a concept of feminist political economy and ecology which places the logic of care towards humans and nature at the centre of transformative strategies women resist a violent extractivist development model and a patriarchal-capitalist model of competition and individual utility maximisation. The session deals with different situations of violence: control over bodies and territories, and dispossession of land, livelihoods, resources and diversity. The focus is on everyday practices and politics of (re)production of environments, and of reclaiming and transforming spaces, territories and narratives vis-à-vis resource extractivism, large dam construction and industrialisation of food. In these critical situations and in critical places, the logic of caring and care work towards humans and nature link material und discursive production and reproduction while co-producing genders, natures and bodies. As Wendy Harcourt has highlighted, place-based everyday politics are about resistance but also about reinvention of practices, opportunities and commons as we move towards emancipatory and transformative politics. For these politics and strategies, growth in terms of ever increasing GDP is not the goal. The session will look at care work in our social-nature entanglements that promote social and gender justice, equality and alternative forms of knowing and acting.

Presenters: Wendy Harcourt (ISS, Den Hague), Anna Katharina Voss (ISS), Rosa de Nooijer (ISS)

Language: English

Technical details: WENDY_HARCOURT_SP K_NEW.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 279MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – WoMin – African women unite against destructive resource extraction

Presentation [part of the standard session “Territories, Resources and Care Work Feminist Perspectives on Transformation“]

The Corona crisis has unprecedentedly highlighted the topic of this session: care work got visibility, its systemic relevance gained public recognition as never before. The appalling shortage of health care workers and the deficiencies in public health systems due to restructuring towards profit orientation and cost saving measures in the context of privatisation and globalisation became obvious. These systemic flaws aggravated the ongoing crisis of social reproduction towards a crisis of survival of societies. The pandemic also challenges the prevailing relation of human domination over nature and over bodies in the context of a growth-obsessed economy. The virus exposes the vulnerability of bodies and societies. It points at the destruction of ecosystems and of species due to the rapid expansion of industrial monocultures in agriculture, the encroachment of land, forest and water bodies. Thus, it shows the need to recognise the obstinacy of nature and to organise everyday life as a bio- and eco-social, and as a collective process saying farewell to the fiction of total control of nature. Therefore the crisis nurtures demands for a caring economy based on commons and oriented towards a good life for everybody. In everyday life people experienced that solidarity is an absolute necessity to cope with crisis situations. On the backdrop of a concept of feminist political economy and ecology which places the logic of care towards humans and nature at the centre of transformative strategies women resist a violent extractivist development model and a patriarchal-capitalist model of competition and individual utility maximisation. The session deals with different situations of violence: control over bodies and territories, and dispossession of land, livelihoods, resources and diversity. The focus is on everyday practices and politics of (re)production of environments, and of reclaiming and transforming spaces, territories and narratives vis-à-vis resource extractivism, large dam construction and industrialisation of food. In these critical situations and in critical places, the logic of caring and care work towards humans and nature link material and discursive production and reproduction while co-producing genders, natures and bodies. As Wendy Harcourt has highlighted, place-based everyday politics are about resistance but also about reinvention of practices, opportunities and commons as we move towards emancipatory and transformative politics. For these politics and strategies, growth in terms of ever increasing GDP is not the goal. The session will look at care work in our social-nature entanglements that promote social and gender justice, equality and alternative forms of knowing and acting.

Presenter: Samantha Hargreaves

Language: English

Technical details: SP K_Samantha Hargreaves.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 126MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Beyond the Dam – Feminist perspectives on the social-environmental conflicts around the hydropower plant São Luis do Tapajós: shifting narratives

Presentation [part of the standard session “Territories, Resources and Care Work Feminist Perspectives on Transformation“]

The Corona crisis has unprecedentedly highlighted the topic of this session: care work got visibility, its systemic relevance gained public recognition as never before. The appalling shortage of health care workers and the deficiencies in public health systems due to restructuring towards profit orientation and cost saving measures in the context of privatisation and globalisation became obvious. These systemic flaws aggravated the ongoing crisis of social reproduction towards a crisis of survival of societies. The pandemic also challenges the prevailing relation of human domination over nature and over bodies in the context of a growth-obsessed economy. The virus exposes the vulnerability of bodies and societies. It points at the destruction of ecosystems and of species due to the rapid expansion of industrial monocultures in agriculture, the encroachment of land, forest and water bodies. Thus, it shows the need to recognise the obstinacy of nature and to organise everyday life as a bio- and eco-social, and as a collective process saying farewell to the fiction of total control of nature. Therefore the crisis nurtures demands for a caring economy based on commons and oriented towards a good life for everybody. In everyday life people experienced that solidarity is an absolute necessity to cope with crisis situations. On the backdrop of a concept of feminist political economy and ecology which places the logic of care towards humans and nature at the centre of transformative strategies women resist a violent extractivist development model and a patriarchal-capitalist model of competition and individual utility maximisation. The session deals with different situations of violence: control over bodies and territories, and dispossession of land, livelihoods, resources and diversity. The focus is on everyday practices and politics of (re)production of environments, and of reclaiming and transforming spaces, territories and narratives vis-à-vis resource extractivism, large dam construction and industrialisation of food. In these critical situations and in critical places, the logic of caring and care work towards humans and nature link material und discursive production and reproduction while co-producing genders, natures and bodies. As Wendy Harcourt has highlighted, place-based everyday politics are about resistance but also about reinvention of practices, opportunities and commons as we move towards emancipatory and transformative politics. For these politics and strategies, growth in terms of ever increasing GDP is not the goal. The session will look at care work in our social-nature entanglements that promote social and gender justice, equality and alternative forms of knowing and acting.

Presenters: Camila Nobrega

Language: English

Technical details: SP K_Camila Nobrega.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 68.2MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Territories, Resources and Care Work Feminist Perspectives on Transformation

Special session (discussion following 3 presentations)

The Corona crisis has unprecedentedly highlighted the topic of this session: care work got visibility, its systemic relevance gained public recognition as never before. The appalling shortage of health care workers and the deficiencies in public health systems due to restructuring towards profit orientation and cost saving measures in the context of privatisation and globalisation became obvious. These systemic flaws aggravated the ongoing crisis of social reproduction towards a crisis of survival of societies. The pandemic also challenges the prevailing relation of human domination over nature and over bodies in the context of a growth-obsessed economy. The virus exposes the vulnerability of bodies and societies. It points at the destruction of ecosystems and of species due to the rapid expansion of industrial monocultures in agriculture, the encroachment of land, forest and water bodies. Thus, it shows the need to recognise the obstinacy of nature and to organise everyday life as a bio- and eco-social, and as a collective process saying farewell to the fiction of total control of nature. Therefore the crisis nurtures demands for a caring economy based on commons and oriented towards a good life for everybody. In everyday life people experienced that solidarity is an absolute necessity to cope with crisis situations. On the backdrop of a concept of feminist political economy and ecology which places the logic of care towards humans and nature at the centre of transformative strategies women resist a violent extractivist development model and a patriarchal-capitalist model of competition and individual utility maximisation. The session deals with different situations of violence: control over bodies and territories, and dispossession of land, livelihoods, resources and diversity. The focus is on everyday practices and politics of (re)production of environments, and of reclaiming and transforming spaces, territories and narratives vis-à-vis resource extractivism, large dam construction and industrialisation of food. In these critical situations and in critical places, the logic of caring and care work towards humans and nature link material und discursive production and reproduction while co-producing genders, natures and bodies. As Wendy Harcourt has highlighted, place-based everyday politics are about resistance but also about reinvention of practices, opportunities and commons as we move towards emancipatory and transformative politics. For these politics and strategies, growth in terms of ever increasing GDP is not the goal. The session will look at care work in our social-nature entanglements that promote social and gender justice, equality and alternative forms of knowing and acting.

Presenters: Christa Wichterich (freelance, UniBonn), Samantha Hargreaves (WoMin), Camila Nobrega (FU Berlin), Wendy Harcourt (ISS, Den Hague), Anna Katharina Voss (ISS), Rosa de Nooijer (ISS)

Presentations:

Camila Nobrega (FU Berlin) – video

Samantha Hargreaves (WoMin) – video

Wendy Harcourt (ISS, Den Hague), Anna Katharina Voss (ISS), Rosa de Nooijer (ISS) – video

Language: English

Technical details: SP K_discussion.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 39.6MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Work

Standard session (discussion following three presentations)

  1. Work time reduction in a degrowth context: for the North or for all?
    Currently, most of the calls for work time reduction in a degrowth context focus on the global North and disregard the global South. I argue that advocating for work time reduction as a shared interest between North and South socio-environmental movements could contribute to increased global solidarity and sympathy for the degrowth framework in the South. As an attempt to contribute to the challenge of coherently incorporating “work time reduction with the South” into the degrowth framework, I explore some of the limits and premises of different positions found in the academic literature.
    Presenters: Gabriel Trettel Silva (Modul University Vienna)
  2. Can Working Time Reduction Make Societal Transition Sustainable?
    A relevant curtailment of carbon emissions follows productivity-led working time reduction: increases in labour productivity converted into less work hours. We apply a simulation model and compare three scenarios to conclude that a greater reduction in emissions results in smaller employment gains.
    Presenters: Andre Cieplinski (University of Pisa)
  3. Recipes for degrowth: Policies for transforming property, work, and money
    In this session I design a policy agenda for degrowth in a French context around the three specific themes of property, work, and money. The hypothesis I make is that operationalising degrowth means transforming these three institutions, that is redesigning them according to the three values (autonomy, sufficiency, and care) and fifteen principles that I ascribe to the idea of degrowth. The outcome is a transition programme for degrowth including 9 goals, 31 objectives, and a diversity of policy instruments gathered in 9 bundles.
    Presenters: Tim Parrique (University of Clermont Auvergne)

Language: English

Technical details: Standard G_Work.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 343MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Strategies for the Transformation of Work – Degrowth perspectives

Panel discussion

This panel assembles experts from research and practice to discuss strategies for a degrowth transformation of work, spanning the whole flourishing degrowth repertoire: Work time reduction and work-sharing, UBI and UBS, social infrastructure, cooperatives, workers’ self-management, just transition and trade union perspectives, sectoral transformation and selective degrowth, as well as postwork perspectives. Which strategies are needed to bring these ideas forward on the political agenda, and these actors acting?

Facilitator: Melanie Pichler (Researcher and lecturer at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

Speakers: Juliet Schor (Professor of Sociology, Boston College, USA), Will Stronge (Researcher in Politics and Philosophy at the University of Brighton; Co-director of the thinktank Autonomy), Anna Daimler (Trade unionist and general secretary of the Austrian “Transport and Service Trade Union” VIDA), Nikolina Rajković (Labour activist and researcher at the Institute for Political Ecology in Zagreb, Croatia)

Language: English

Technical details: work_panel.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 593MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Co-operatives, Work and Degrowth

Standard session (discussion following 4 presentations)

  1. Degrowth Cooperatives as Alternative to the Development Paradigm: The Case of the Integral Minga Cooperative
    The session will start by explaining the objectives of the study, the theoretical framework on post-development, degrowth and cooperativism. Then, the studied cooperative and the methodology used will be explained. Finally, the results of the fieldwork and the conclusions will be demonstrated.
    Presenters: Jéssica Chainho Pereira (ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon, Portugal)
  2. Car workers as political subjects of degrowth transformation – video
    I argue that degrowth strategies should be focused more on the industrial sectors and on those who work there. More concretely, the automotive industry is economically-speaking one of the most important sectors in Central Europe, with car workers having great potential to be a transformational force.
    Presenters: Patrik Gažo (the Department of Environmental Studies, Masaryk University)
  3. How can the concept of democratic ownership contribute to a social-ecological transformation? – video
    The study explores how the concept of democratic ownership can contribute to a bottom-up, workers-led social-ecological transformation of the Austrian aircraft sector, targeting the Viennese airport in particular. Therefore, the study will involve qualitative interviews with workers and workers’ councils, following a workers’ inquiry approach to combine knowledge creation with political emancipation.
    Presenters: Philipp Chmel (Vienna University of Economics (WU)
  4. Cooperative growth strategies for businesses beyond growth – video
    “Post-growth organizations” do face a dilemma: Growth allows them to increase their good impact. At the same time, it may have bad effects on themselves, as organizations. Against that background, we discuss various “cooperative growth strategies beyond growth” that promise to resolve that dilemma.
    Presenters: Dirk Raith (Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz)

Language: English

Technical details: Standard A1_Co-operatives, work and degrowth_ discussion_trimmed.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 37.7MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – How can the concept of democratic ownership contribute to a social-ecological transformation?

Presentation [part of the standard session “Co-operatives, work and degrowth”]

The study explores how the concept of democratic ownership can contribute to a bottom-up, workers-led social-ecological transformation of the Austrian aircraft sector, targeting the Viennese airport in particular. Therefore, the study will involve qualitative interviews with workers and workers’ councils, following a workers’ inquiry approach to combine knowledge creation with political emancipation.

Presenters: Philipp Chmel (Vienna University of Economics (WU))

Language: English

Technical details:SP A1_Philipp Chmel_How can the concept of democratic ownership contribute to a social-ecological transformation.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 44.1MB

This is a link to a torrent video file. By clicking on ‘external content’ you will be opening a magnet link that will allow you to download the corresponding video with a torrent client. To learn more about downloading torrents see here.

The role of work in a sustainable society

“A societal change towards sustainability, can not succeed without a transformation of work and society based around work, so becomes extremely important and fundamental reconsider the current social – economic system, in order to create a path that can lead to a sustainable society, where people and nature can collaborate to find their own spaces, their own times and to listen to their needs, in an equal and common way. Inside this societal model, what would be the role of work?”

Master dissertation in Human Ecology and Contemporary Social Problems (May 2020)

Academia in the time of Covid-19: Our chance to develop an ethics of care

“In writing this opinion article we hope to encourage thinking about how academics may transform our work ethos now and in the future. This disruptive time can become an opportunity to foster a culture of care, refocus on what is most important, change expectations about the meaning of quality teaching and research, and in doing so make academic practice more respectful and sustainable.”

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – Economic values, capital accumulation and degrowth

Presentation by Mikael Malmaeus

Historically, value theories used to be at the heart of critiques of capitalism. However, contemporary economists rarely focus on value theories, and the labor theory of value has not been discussed in relation to macroeconomic growth or in the context of degrowth. In this article it is theoretically and empirically demonstrated that economic values at the macroeconomic level are fundamentally determined by the use of production factors, primarily labor and physical capital as predicted by the labor theory of value. Technical innovations or efficiency gains increasing utility without raising the costs of production do not add to the GDP unless they stimulate investments in physical capital. It is also shown that the Solow model, which is frequently applied in growth accounting, cannot be meaningfully applied to predict changes in the monetary value of production at the macro level and that results obtained with this model, indicating that increases in total factor productivity play a major role in achieving GDP growth, are theoretically flawed. In practice, GDP growth is mostly explained by capital accumulation and a key question is whether or not capital accumulation can be decoupled from the use of materials and energy. What is certain is that GDP growth cannot, according to the labor theory of value, be decoupled from capital investments and degrowth therefore implies the end of capital accumulation. Beyond GDP growth the role of human labor in the realization of economic values will be accentuated.

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – An understanding of materialistic values in post-socialist Europe. Exploring demographic determinants and implications for working patterns

Presentation by Saamah Abdallah

Degrowth is a post-materialist movement, which places value on the biosphere, human wellbeing, and justice, above and beyond the possession of material goods (Degrowth Declaration, 2008). And yet surveys suggest that levels of materialism are higher in post-socialist countries than in Western European countries (Kyvelidis, 2001). In the sixth round of the European Social Survey (2012), nine of the ten countries where respondents agreed most to the statement “it is important to be rich, have money and expensive things” were in Central and Eastern Europe. This suggests that advancing degrowth in post-socialist countries in Central and Eastern Europe may prove even more challenging than in Western Europe.
This paper will seek to explore the patterns of materialism in these countries. It will use data from the European Social Survey (ESS), operationalising materialism using the Schwarz Human Values Scale which has been included in all seven rounds of the survey. It will seek to address three questions:

1. What individual and societal-level factors are associated with materialism in Central and Eastern Europe? Potential factors to consider include:
a. Demographics (age, income, education, parental education)
b. Attitudes towards businesses
c. Prevalence of advertising in society (Kasser, 2011), and exposure to advertising

2. How have levels of materialism changed over time in Central and Eastern Europe, between 2002 and 2014?

3. Do levels of materialism predict intentions to reduce working hours? Does the relationship between materialism and the intention to reduce working hours vary between countries?

We will consider implications of this research for advancing degrowth

Structural Change for a Post-Growth Economy: Investigating the Relationship between Embodied Energy Intensity and Labour Productivity

Reviewing the Smart City Vienna Framework Strategy’s Potential as an Eco-Social Policy in the Context of Quality of Work and Socio-Ecological Transformation

In the face of an increasing awareness of environmental issues and the urgent need to tackle them without shifting the burden onto the most vulnerable social groups, calls for a socio-economic transformation are growing louder. However, there is no consensus on what transformative strategies should look like. Within the German-language literature one can broadly distinguish two transformative paradigms: the green economy paradigm, arguing for soft political steering mechanisms and technological innovations in order to green the current economic system and the degrowth paradigm, drawing the current growth-oriented economic system into question. In both approaches a tendency to marginalize issues of quality of work prevails. We argue that work is not only an integral part of one’s income, but also of one’s identity and psychosocial wellbeing as well as of social peace and cohesion and that it should therefore be at the heart of socio-ecological transformative strategies. We apply these theoretical considerations to the analysis of the Smart City Vienna Framework Strategy (SCWR), which is promoted as a holistic sustainability strategy paper. Additionally, we conducted expert workshops and interviews in order to analyze how stakeholders within the sectors with the highest CO2 emissions in Vienna perceive the SCWR in relation to work. We found that the SCWR does not live up to its potential as an eco-social policy as it remains tightly rooted within the green economy paradigm and does not account for the ecological dimension of work. The stakeholders’ perspectives on the SCWR vary according to the degree to which they are embedded within the green economy paradigm as well as their position within the economic system. However, generally the SCWR is not perceived as an eco-social policy and no connection is made between environmental issues and quality of work. We argue that transformative degrowth strategies could greatly benefit from making this connection explicit.
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 859

Post-Growth Conference, Brussels 2018 – Workshop Wages & Collective Bargaining

Chair: Marisa Matias, MEP (GUE/NGL)
Panellists: Esther Lynch (ETUC, Confederal Secretary), Lars Vande Keybus (FGTB)