Money, Vouchers, Public Infrastructures? A Framework for Sustainable Welfare Benefits

While the social consequences of environmental policies are extensively evaluated in sustainability research, few studies exist on the ecological impact of social benefits and the welfare state. Sustainable welfare is a novel research field that seeks to close this knowledge gap and develop integrated eco-social policies. Within this, researchers are starting to ask how citizen’s needs can be guaranteed in an environmentally sustainable way and how their welfare benefits should be delivered. Should citizens receive a universal basic income, be given vouchers for ecologically beneficial or socially needed goods and services, or be provided with access to socio-ecological infrastructures and services? This article develops a framework for sustainable welfare benefits with six criteria of sustainable welfare and nine different types of welfare benefits that belong to the domains of universal basic income (UBI), universal basic services (UBS), and universal basic vouchers (UBV). Using this framework, existing policy proposals are categorized and evaluated. The advantages and disadvantages of the different types of welfare benefits are discussed and new application areas highlighted. The analysis shows that a successful policy will likely include all forms of welfare benefits, with certain types being more adequate for certain fields and societal circumstances. The framework for sustainable welfare benefits can serve as a starting point for further research on integrated policy design and inform policymakers on the selection of eco-social policies.
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 596

First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – Dimensionar el descrecimiento

Durante las presentaciones individuales de la Conferencia el autor planteó la importancia de dimensionar el potencial de crecimiento para conocer la necesidad de descrecimineto.


Who can challenge the imperial mode of living? The terrain of struggles for social-ecological transformation in the German population

This contribution draws on empirical evidence from the 2016 wave of the survey “Environmental Consciousness in Germany” to identify the potential social bases of both support for and resistance to attempts to overcome the current socio-ecological crisis by way of a broad social-ecological transformation. Firstly, the results of factor and cluster analyses of the survey’s items on attitudes are presented in the form of a typology of ten “syndromes” of discernibly different basic attitudes toward questions of sustainability and change. Basic sociodemographic information on each cluster is given, and each type is scrutinised more closely concerning its attitudes and reported practices in matters related to energy and the German energy transition (Energiewende), as a proxy for their respective stances concerning a broader, more fundamental transformation. By locating the clusters within Bourdieu’s two-dimensional model of social space (on a vertical “power axis” and a horizontal “modernisation axis”), it is then possible to reconstruct the current constellation of struggles between pro- and anti-transformation forces in the German population. Results indicate that resistance to transformation is not simply a matter of attitudes, but indeed deeply rooted in the infrastructures of the “imperial mode of living” and the specific ways social groups are integrated into them. Instead of “raising consciousness”, transformational strategies should therefore focus on leading the struggles that will be necessary to change those infrastructures themselves, and their proponents ought to acknowledge that significant segments of the populace will not be won over to support such change, but have to be politically defeated.

Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, October 2019

WED_9.30h // Clive Spash – Science and uncommon thinking

Recorded keynote speech at the 6th International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Leipzig in 2016.
Speaker: Clive Spash

Degrowth 2016 – English youtube channel

A framework for the integration of the conviviality concept in the design process

Abstract: Although the impact of technology on society has been widely studied in the literature, few studies have proposed a practical approach directly engaging stakeholders, including designers and engineers, in the development of new products and services. Within the degrowth movement, some approaches criticizing the western model of development suggest original criteria that could be integrated in the design process.
The current study seeks to analyze the conviviality concept of Ivan Illich (1973) to develop a new framework for designers. To that end, current design literature and four industrial case studies were analyzed according to the five main threats to conviviality: the biological degradation of the ecosystem, radical monopoly, over-programming, polarization, and obsolescence. As a result, this paper proposes a framework that includes two guidelines: one for product scope and another for the socio-technical system scope. The guidelines are composed of a set of recommendations that emerge from the relationship between the threats to conviviality and life cycle stages of a product or service.
These recommendations allow designers and engineers to better approach the complexity of the design process and co-create a strong sustainable society with stakeholders.

Sustainable health and degrowth: Health, health care and society beyond the growth paradigm

Abstract: The extraordinary economic growth rates of the twentieth century are historically exceptional and a continuation into the future seems neither possible nor desirable. Consequently, it is in the interest of public health to actively shape a socio-economic transformation towards a system that is not based on growth. “Degrowth” provides coherent guidelines for such a system. Combining existing scholarship from the degrowth and the public health fields, this paper makes seven suggestions for a public health agenda towards sustainable health: (1) to develop an index of health status in relation to present and future health burden; (2) to reduce the resource burden of medical therapy; (3) to translate increased productivity to fewer working hours and more free time instead of more income and material consumption; (4) to make use of non-conventional knowledge and non-commercial forms of work and product exchange; (5) to make knowledge freely available, making use of innovative research frameworks such as open source drug research; (6) to relocalize economic life and health-related organization and to reshape citizen participation and (7) to reduce socio-economic inequality through redistribution. Generally, this paper argues that it is time for discussions on degrowth to enter the mainstream medical and health community and for doctors and other health workers to acknowledge that they have a significant role to play and important experience to contribute when our societies face the upcoming challenge of no-longer-growing economies.

Social Theory & Health (2017): 1-23.

The dynamics of urban degrowth in Japanese metropolitan areas: what are the outcomes of urban recentralisation strategies?

Abstract: Japanese authorities have supported compact city-oriented policies since the late 1990s to counter the effects of population decline and lingering economic stagnation. The concentration of renewal projects in well-connected neighbourhoods is meant to sustain the mobilities of an ageing society. Such policies actually have the effect of promoting a selective redevelopment of Japan’s metropolises, especially focused on maintaining the competitiveness of Tokyo’s world city status. This ‘Tokyo problem’ is destabilising the Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe city-region (Keihanshin), whose restructurings can be read in the changing mobilities of its inhabitants. Mapping degrowth within the Keihanshin provides insights into the complex interactions between advanced demographic transition and urban dynamics in a region renowned for its mass transit system. Based upon micro-census data, this paper questions the ways in which the urban recentralisation paradigm contributes to the decline of formerly expanding suburbs and to more differentiated levels of access to urban resources.

Town Planning Review 88.1 (2017): 79-92.

Ausstieg aus der Megamaschine – Vortrag

Vortrag vom 23.9.2016 bei der Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Systemische Therapie an der Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/M. Der Vortrag fasst den zweiten Teil des Buches “Das Ende der Megamaschine. Geschichte einer scheiternden Zivilisation” in sieben Punkten zusammen:
1. Das Verhältnis von Markt, Staat und ideologischer Macht im modernen Weltsystem
2. Der Mythos des Westens
3. Dr. Jekyll und Mr. Hyde: Die Doppelgesichtigkeit der Megamaschine
4. Die Herrschaft über die Natur und die Tyrannei des linearen Denkens
5. Die Disziplinierung des Menschen (Militär, Schule, Lohnarbeit)
6. Die Grenzen des Systems: “Säkulare Stagnation” und die Krise des Lebens auf der Erde
7. Ausstieg aus der Megamaschine


Damit wir tun, was wir für richtig halten

Der Verlag: Dieses Buch macht Schluss mit umweltmoralischen Appellen! Es zeigt: Wir können nachhaltig leben, ohne uns tagtäglich mit Klimawandel oder Massentierhaltung befassen zu müssen. Wir machen ökologisches Leben einfach zur Routine!
Was unmöglich erscheint, ist konzeptionell einfach: Mülltrennung, Sparlampen, Effizienzhäuser – alles längst akzeptiert oder in Reichweite. Was wir zur Durchsetzung einer gelebten Nachhaltigkeit brauchen, ist eine Politik, die neue, innovative Standards und Limits durchsetzt: Wenn Geräte weniger oft kaputtgehen, die Tierhaltung artgerechter wird oder bedenkliche Zusatzstoffe aus Lebensmitteln verschwinden – welcher Verbraucher würde sich darüber beschweren?
Michael Kopatz präsentiert in diesem Buch eine Vielzahl leicht umsetzbarer, politischer Vorschläge für alle Lebensbereiche, damit die Utopien von heute schon bald die Realitäten von morgen werden.

ISBN-13: 978-3-86581-806-5

Economic deGrowth and New Economic Structures

Poster by Tim Crabtree, Nadia Johanisová and Eva Franková from the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona with the title “Economic deGrowth and New Economic Structures”.


The DegrowthPedia Initiative – a new collaborative platform for information and education about degrowth

Poster by Francois Diaz Maurin at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona with the title “The DegrowthPedia Initiative – a new collaborative platform for information and education about degrowth”.

Towards a “third” sector housing in France: symptom of sustainable degrowth?

Transcription of an oral session by Anne d’Orazio at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona on the topic “Towards a “third” sector housing in France: symptom of sustainable degrowth?”.

Cities, De-Growth and The Big Five

Transcription of an oral session by Richard Register at the Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Barcelona on the topic “Cities, De-Growth and The Big Five”.

« A Degrowth Project »: Sport and economic growth!

From the text: An abandoned city, another one plagued by demonstrations fuelled by petro-dollars… nothing new really. Except that we are not talking about Detroit, the Greek crisis or the arrival of massive investments into our industries originating from the Gulf countries. No, today, the collective “Un Projet de Décroissance” (« A Degrowth Project« ) takes a look at sports. Sport that created the Olympic city of Sotchi that is already in ruins and ruined; sport which embarrasses Rio for the outrageously costly World Soccer Cup. Of course, it is soccer country but it is also favelas country; the sport also receives massive investments funds from the Gulf countries, as if money were the fuel of sport, leading it to its downfall. Sport is not a simple game anymore. It is far more, rather, far less. . . .

> French version

Vielfalt statt Gleichwertigkeit – Was Bevölkerungsrückgang für die Versorgung ländlicher Regionen bedeutet

Auf dem Land treibt der demografische Wandel die Kosten für Energie, Abwasser, Straßen, Bildung und ärztliche Versorgung in die Höhe. Und belastet damit immer weniger Einwohner mit immer höheren Ausgaben. Was wiederum verstärkte Abwanderung zur Folge haben kann. Welche Alternativen es zu dieser Entwicklung gibt, hat das Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung gemeinsam mit dem Potsdamer Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) untersucht.
(Kurzbeschreibung der Herausgeber)

ISBN: 978-3-9814679-6-3