Degrowth Vienna 2020 – How to communicate & organize the Degrowth movement better

Presentation [part of the standard session “Communicating Degrowth“]

We argue that strategic, motivation-oriented communications and scalable, mission-centric organising are crucial bottlenecks for the degrowth movement’s success. We have three key recommendations for the movement to master the challenges that climate change communication has struggled with.

Presenters: Justus Baumann (Future Matters Project), Vegard Beyer (Future Matters Project)

Language: English with translation to German

Technical details: Standard A2_Vegard Beyer_How to communicate & organize the Degrowth ovement better.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 82.6MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – An anthropological contribution to degrowth

Presentation [part of the standard session “Communicating Degrowth“]

Social Anthropology has great potential to contribute to degrowth debates and proposals, hardly explored until now. I propose three ways to do so, further exploring one of them, inspired by the question: what can be recovered from the near past, still accessible in the present, for the future? The degrowth project needs new images, ideas, and practices, but it also needs to selectively retrieve those traditional local pre-globalization practices and knowledge aligned with a degrowth society, involving the elders of our society in the creation of pathways for a degrowth transition.

Presenters: Lucía Muñoz Sueiro (The New School, New York)

Language: English with translation to German

Technical details: Standard A2_Lucía Muñoz Sueiro_An anthropological contribution to degrowth.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 55.6MB

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.

Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Transformations Beyond Growth: A Diverse Practices Approach

Presentation [part of the standard session “Communicating Degrowth“]

This talk stages a conversation between diverse economies and practice theory literatures, outlining the distinct paths these two areas of scholarship have taken to explore current patterns of growth. It argues that their simultaneous consideration would benefit radical and critical scholarship, especially in understanding the complexities of social change.

Presenters: Tom Smith (Masaryk University, Czech Republic)

Language: English with translation to German

Technical details: Standard A2_Tom Smith_Transformations Beyond Growth_ A Diverse Practices Approach.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 96.6MB

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.

Degrowth Vienna 2020 – The Psychology of Degrowth Adoption: Insights from the Perspectives of the Utopian Impulse and the Regulatory Focus Theory

Presentation [part of the standard session “Communicating Degrowth“]

We investigated how to influence people’s support for degrowth, and whether such influence may be subject to individual differences regarding transformative social change. To do so, we adopted the regulatory focus theory—one of the most widely used theoretical frameworks in social psychology—and used it to frame how degrowth is communicated to people. We also investigated the Utopian Impulse—a core personality trait that determines people’s propensity to pursue transformative social change.

Presenters: Dario Krpan (London School of Economics and Political Science), Frédéric Basso (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Language: English with translation to German

Technical details: Standard A2_Dario Krpan_The Psychology of Degrowth Adoption Insights from the Perspectives of the Utopian Impulse and the Regulatory Focus Theory.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 46.0MB

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.

Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Communicating Degrowth

Standard session (discussion following 4 presentations)

  1. The Psychology of Degrowth Adoption: Insights from the Perspectives of the Utopian Impulse and the Regulatory Focus Theory – video
    We investigated how to influence people’s support for degrowth, and whether such influence may be subject to individual differences regarding transformative social change. To do so, we adopted the regulatory focus theory—one of the most widely used theoretical frameworks in social psychology—and used it to frame how degrowth is communicated to people. We also investigated the Utopian Impulse—a core personality trait that determines people’s propensity to pursue transformative social change.
    Presenters: Dario Krpan & Frédéric Basso
  2. Transformations Beyond Growth: A Diverse Practices Approach – video
    This talk stages a conversation between diverse economies and practice theory literatures, outlining the distinct paths these two areas of scholarship have taken to explore current patterns of growth. It argues that their simultaneous consideration would benefit radical and critical scholarship, especially in understanding the complexities of social change.
    Presenters: Tom Smith
  3. An anthropological contribution to degrowth – video
    Social Anthropology has great potential to contribute to degrowth debates and proposals, hardly explored until now. I propose three ways to do so, further exploring one of them, inspired by the question: what can be recovered from the near past, still accessible in the present, for the future? The degrowth project needs new images, ideas, and practices, but it also needs to selectively retrieve those traditional local pre-globalization practices and knowledge aligned with a degrowth society, involving the elders of our society in the creation of pathways for a degrowth transition.
    Presenters: Lucía Muñoz Sueiro
  4. How to communicate & organize the Degrowth movement better – video
    We argue that strategic, motivation-oriented communications and scalable, mission-centric organising are crucial bottlenecks for the degrowth movement’s success. We have three key recommendations for the movement to master the challenges that climate change communication has struggled with.
    Presenters: Justus Baumann & Vegard Beyer

Language: English with translation to German

Technical details: Standard A2_Communicating Degrowth_discussion.mkv, Matroska video, 40.7MB

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 smart city and other ICT-led techno-imaginaries: Any room for dialogue with degrowth?

Abstract: The 21st century has been hailed as the urban century and one in which ICT-led transformations will shape urban responses to global environmental change. The Smart City encapsulates all the desires and prospects on the transformative and disruptive role technology will have in solving urban issues both in Global North and Global South cities. Critical scholarship has pointed out that private capital, with the blessing of technocratic elites, has found a techno-environmental fix to both reshuffle economic growth and prevent other alternative politico-ecological transitions to take root in urban systems. Against this bleak outlook, the paper argues that these technological assemblages might be compatible with alternative post-capitalist urban transformations aligned with Degrowth. Through a cross-reading of research on Smart Cities with theoretical perspectives drawn from the literature on Degrowth, I suggest that Degrowth should not refrain from engaging with urban technological imaginaries in a critical and selective way. As the paper shows through alternative uses of Smart technologies and digital open-source fabrication, the question is not so much around technology per se but around the wider politico-economic context into which these technological assemblages are embedded.

Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 197 (part 2), October 2018, pp. 1694-1703

Has ‘Degrowth’ Outgrown its Own Name?

The following article presents a debate that was first published on From Poverty to Power, a conversational blog maintained by Duncan Green. It is kicked off by Kate Raworth, renegade economist and development re-thinker, who feels that degrowth has outgrown its name. In reply Giorgos Kallis, the world’s leading academic on degrowth, counters with the view that ‘degrowth’ is still a compelling term. Let the debate begin…

Degrowth: A “missile word” that backfires?

Language use and cognition are generally underappreciated topics in alternative economics, even if effective communication is essential for social and political impact. To challenge the economic growth paradigm, the concept and term degrowth has recently been embraced by various activists and scholars. Drawing on a body of evidence from cognitive science, psychology and related fields, we argue that using the word degrowth might be disadvantageous in public communications about alternatives to growth. We begin by reviewing arguments in favor of the term. Then we outline three main counterarguments: First, degrowth has a downward orientation which triggers negative initial feelings due to the basic conceptual metaphor “up is good – down is bad”. This puts advocates of an alternative to the growth paradigm in an unfavorable starting position, given that subsequent thought will be unconsciously biased by the initial feeling. Second, more conscious reactions are likely to be negative as well because people unfamiliar with the term will (mis)interpret it as a contraction of the economy, even though it is not always meant as such. Third, degrowth repeats and possibly strengthens the growth frame and may activate undesirable frames associated with economic recessions. To conclude, we briefly discuss alternative terms and summarize key aspects to be considered for more effective communication.

Additional links:

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Degrowth: A “missile word” that backfires?“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

The vocabulary of degrowth: A roundtable debate

From the discussion: . . . Giorgos Kallis (GK): My starting point is an essay I’ve recently discovered in the Guardian by Doreen Massey, a notable critical geographer and political ecologist in a broad sense, who sadly passed away two weeks ago. The title of the essay was ‘Neoliberalism has hijacked our vocabulary’. Massey takes issue with keywords like ‘adjustment’ and ‘austerity’ that neoliberalism has introduced into our vocabulary and that have become the common sense of our times, words that people take for granted. And interestingly, she says that the most depoliticised of these words, the one that nobody ever questions, is that of growth.
Our book is precisely about confronting the capitalist vocabulary of growth and offering a new vocabulary in its place – a vocabulary for a new era of secular stagnation, growing inequalities and an impending climate disaster. We are not providing in this book a theory, a blueprint or a manifesto for degrowth. What we are providing are keywords that articulate and develop an alternative vocabulary. An ecologist, radical, critical, green, left – however you might want to call it – vocabulary around this new key term ‘degrowth’.

ephemera Volume 17(1): 189-208

Zwei Seiten einer Medaille

Herausgeber_innen: Was kann die Degrowth-Bewegung von anderen sozialen Bewegungen lernen? Was können diese wiederum voneinander und von Degrowth lernen? Und wie können alle besser zusammenarbeiten? In dem Multimediaprojekt »Degrowth in Bewegung(en)« gehen Vertreter von Initiativen diesen Fragen nach. Christiane Kliemann untersucht den möglichen Beitrag der Ökodorf-Bewegung.

Teaching and deep ecology

Abstract: The ecological thinking requires particular awareness of being part of a much larger complex, the Ecosystem, which perhaps is a sentient being (or, if you like, a Great Unconscious): the need for good health of this complex is the first value. The words used to convey concepts are very important: the currently used language is strongly influenced by the dominant anthropocentric paradigm, which deals the environment as if it were something inanimate only useful to our species.
The Earth is not “our environment” or “our house”, but it is the body which we belong to: we are one of its tissues, we are like a type of integrated cells in a biological organism, and that entirely depend on its self-regulation ability of keeping in living conditions.
Some examples are explained in order to adapt the language used in school teaching (not ever conscious), to the above mentioned background: you can consider the relationships in an ecosystem as a forest, who continues to live as long as a steady-state situation is kept.
Thus, our world continues to say “man and nature” as two separate things, if not opposed. Today we know that man is Nature, is an animal species, he/she fully participates in the flow of mind-energy-matter of the Ecosystem, the Earth, or better yet, the whole Universe, since all the energy that flows through us, as in all other sentient beings, comes from the Sun.
The perception of being part of a much larger complex, the Ecosystem (or Earth) is very important: the first value is the good health of this Organism. Instead, the current background thought has expressions completely anthropocentric, mechanistic and reductionist. We must begin to convey to students the concepts using different terms.
In fact in the present substrate are in general present:
– The dualism that separates “mind” from “matter”;
– The physicalism of the metaphors we use to describe and explain mental phenomena: “power”, “tension”, “energy”, “social forces”, etc.;
– The idea that all phenomena, including mental ones, should be studied in quantitative terms.
I think a good proposal is rewriting the ideas transmitted to the students using a language compatible with the ideas of Deep Ecology, which leads to the end of economic growth and to the beginning of a transient economic degrowth to reach an acceptable situation. It would be interesting to re-write some good text on Physics and Natural Sciences using a new language to frame not-reductionist and non-mechanistic ideas (Bateson, Capra, Lorenz, Sheldrake, Prigogine, Jung, and others). The same for a text of Middle School in parts of Natural Sciences-Physics. You can easily explain all this to children, while using the appropriate language: maybe children are less contaminated by the background of current thinking. In essence, the concepts may seem almost the same, but framed in a non-anthropocentric, non-cartesian, non-dualist background.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.

Buen Vivir and Beyond: Searching for a New Paradigm of Action

From the text: A Language of opposition, once turned into a principle of governance changes its appearance. On the one hand, the social activist necessarily bases her intervention on the vision of a better state of affairs. Hence, her intellectual work is grounded in counter-narratives of what a different, alternative world should look like with the ultimate aim of transforming reality towards this alternative. However, by engaging into the actual game of power politics, the counter-language of critique runs the risk of getting contaminated and corrupted. Acting in the “falsches Leben” (Adorno 2003, engl.: false life) – in this case a globalised capitalism, an environment abused by resource exploitation and deep-reaching power gaps between nations states – there exists a dialectic between counter-narratives, such as those of post-development theories, and their operationalization. This happens in many Latin American countries, even those led by so-called progressive regimes.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.

Towards convergence

From the text: We can observe today a strong resistance to the idea of degrowth among emergent or developing countries. This proposal is often considered, among them, as a typical ideology of industrialized and rich countries. At national level, the idea of degrowth is denounced as a reactionary and upper class ideology. It is a well-known argument used by productivists, either from the right or the left-wing. In fact, it is a reality that the supporters of degrowth are in the majority from middle and upper class and have a university degree. But the real problem is that this argument impedes a real debate with many social movements and is used by mainstream politicians (left and right) to bring discredit on the degrowth movement as a whole. I think that the success of this voluntary misinterpretation or disinformation reveals a specific weakness of the movement. I want to speak about the lack of a consensual platform which could be adopted by social movements, some NGOs and political parties, and defended in international negotiations as well as inside each country, with the same goals. This platform could be based on the proposal of a coordinated convergence (in terms of consumption, C02 emissions and access to resources) between countries and between citizens in each country. The idea is that today it is no more a question of utopian-egalitarian dream but an urgent necessity if we want to avoid environmental and social injustice as well as the rise of violence caused by an increasing scarcity of essential resources.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.

A-growth or Degrowth?

Debate on “A-growth or Degrowth?” between Prof. Jeroen van den Bergh and Prof. Giorgos Kallis

What will spark a degrowth movement in the USA?

Subtitle: Thinking smaller in a country where everything is big

From the text: . . . Degrowth means downscaling the human enterprise to share the world nicely with other species and our grandchildren. Degrowth means distributing wealth equitably and prioritizing needs over wants.
But why the word “degrowth” anyway? A lively, complex debate rages over whether the term is useful or harmful. I only want to make a few points that relate to the U.S. context. . . .

. . . But degrowth has not yet caught on among academics or activists in the oversized United States. Don’t get me wrong, many initiatives here exhibit the values of the degrowth movement – simplicity, democracy, sharing, the rejection of economic growth as the goal for society. There’s a network of organizations fighting to create an economy based on justice and ecology, a campaign to work less, a scholarly groupfocused on downsizing consumption, and countless community-scale projects from urban food forests to bike cooperatives to tool-lending libraries. And there are the water protectors at Standing Rock, standing peacefully in the way of the growth economy’s ever-extending tentacles. Yet these projects lack a defiant unifying frame for their collective crusade to construct a socially and environmentally sustainable country. . . .