The stories Michael Shellenberger tells

“Men in power have rationalized all those forms of domination by claiming that they facilitate economic development, which is purportedly great for people and nature. Sound familiar?”

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 – Advancing a Degrowth Agenda in the Corona Crisis

Panel debate

The aim of this panel is to evaluate and discuss degrowth and it’s strategies in direct relation to the current corona crisis. We want to understand how the degrowth community responded so far to the crisis and how degrowth was and is present in recent discussions. The goal is then to identify potential pathways, but also barriers, for bringing forward the degrowth agenda in this time of upheaval. We invited speakers affiliated to different degrowth bodies to evaluate pros and cons of structural changes in the degrowth community and its organization and to discuss concrete ideas of responding to the corona crisis, using the windows that opend up.

Facilitator: Iris Frey
Speakers: Stefania Barca, Matthias Schmelzer, Andro Rilović, Eeva Houtbeckers

Technical details: Corona_Panel.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 607.5MB

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How to construct the alternative to capitalism? Discovering the commons in the environmental justice movements

Environmental justice movements are taking place at an ever accelerating rate through out the world. Through mobilization of people with diverse societal backgrounds, race, ethnicity, age, gender and income levels, they not only challenge the existing state-society-economy spectrum but also contain important clues about an alternative to capitalism. As crisis vocabulary has become a chronic part of today’s neoliberal world, an alternative to capitalism is sought by many. Since environmental justice movements are one of the most widespread counter-hegemonic movements, and that they counter capital by their nature, understanding the demands of the participants might shed a light on an alternative world design. All in all, only an alternative design which addresses and understands the demands of the people challenging the current system can offer a true alternative to it. Accordingly, this article aims to find out what originates from community based environmental justice movements in the South about an alternative world design. It aspires to empower the link between the de-growth paradigm and the grassroots community demands. It comparatively evaluates the protestors’ demands, and visions about an alternative world design in two environmental justice movements, Bergama and Artvin protests.

Synergies between the degrowth movement and the global ecovillage network

The primary question of this analysis relates to specific key issues fostering actual and potential synergies between the degrowth and the ecovillage movement. As analysis frame, first some distinctive perspectives around de-growth are introduced on the basis of interviews with experts of the Global South and the Global North. More than reinforcing the criticism of growth societies and conceiving new strategies for degrowth, the focus is set on the key issue of conviviality between alternative world-views attempting the transformation towards sustainable societies. In which way can the debate of European degrowth be considered the other side of the debate about Latin American post-extractivism?

Secondly, the bridges of collaboration created between intentional communities by the global ecovillage network are studied by selected Good-Practice examples on both sides of the Atlantic. One key issue investigated here are practices and experiences of self-empowerment. A particular focus will be given to processes of self-empowerment based on community building concepts and methods developed by intentional communities. In which way can these specific processes of self-empowerment contribute to the degrowth movement?

Thirdly, another key issue to be considered relates to combining different patterns of knowledge as scientific and activist knowledge. How can scientists and activists nurture each other’s field of experience and knowledge unifying their efforts to support the degrowth and ecovillage movement? A final prospect will address the new qualities that the degrowth and the ecovillage movement offer in the transformation process towards diverse sustainable futures.

Untangling the radical imaginaries of the Indignados’ movement: commons, autonomy and ecologism

Abstract: Under regimes of austerity, social movements´ transformative eco-politics may appear endangered. What kinds of environmentalism and radical imaginaries can unfold in social movements in crisis-ridden societies? I focus on the ‘movement of the squares’ during its post-encampment phase, with a case study of three urban projects of the Indignados movement in Barcelona. Observation of these projects reveals the importance of three common and intertwined radical imaginaries embodied in participants’ social practices and orienting their future visions: the commons, autonomy, and ecologism. The ecologism imaginary cannot be properly understood if disembedded from the other two: the ‘Indignant’ projects constitute community structures re-embedding (re)production, jointly covering and generating needs differently, in response to the global capitalist forces that are threatening their social reproduction. Eco-politics can only be plausibly transformative if it is able to articulate a politics of intersectionality linking social reproduction with ecological interconnectedness and struggles against dispossessions and social injustice.

Environmental Politics, June 2020

Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Enacting (de)growth in research practices

Presentation [part of the standard session “Theories of Degrowth Practices“]

In this session we explore how growth logics are embedded in research practices. Then, we critically discuss perspectives from Science and Technology Studies and from the Degrowth community on how to enable the practice and organisation of science that is required for socio-ecological transformations.

Presenters: Ruth Falkenberg (University of Vienna, Department of Science and Technology Studies; Research Platform Responsible Research and Innovation in Academic Practice), David Fox (University of Vienna, Department of Science and Technology Studies)

Language: English

Technical details: Presentation_Ruth_Falkenberg_David_Fox_A6.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 51.0MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Theories of Degrowth Practices

Standard session (discussion following 2 presentations)

  1. Social Work, Ecoanxiety, and Peer Pressure
    Ecoanxiety is a significant component of the global climate crisis; yet it is mostly absent from collective understanding regarding the Grand Challenge to create social responses to the changing environment. Social work has an opportunity to employ positive peer pressure throughout the discipline to overcome ecoanxiety.
    Presenters: Kelly Smith
  2. Enacting (de)growth in research practices – video
    In this session we explore how growth logics are embedded in research practices. Then, we critically discuss perspectives from Science and Technology Studies and from the Degrowth community on how to enable the practice and organisation of science that is required for socio-ecological transformations.
    Presenters: Ruth Falkenberg, David Fox

Language: English

Technical details: Standard A6_Theories of Degrowth Parctices_Ruth Falkenberg and discussion_trimmed.mkv, MPEG-4 video, 56.8MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Applying insights from transformation research for a strategy for the Degrowth movement

Presentation [part of the standard session “Theories of Transformation“]

This paper applies insights from a review of research on social-ecological transformations, in particular a framework developed to bridge process-oriented and structural approaches, to the Degrowth Movement. It derives suggestions for a common strategy, while embracing the movement‘s diversity.

Presenters: Julia Tschersich (University of Oldenburg)

Language: English with translation to German

Technical details: Standard A4_Julia Tschersich_Applying insights from transformation research for a strategy for the Degrowth movement.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 56.6MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Book launch: Degrowth in Movement(s)

Special session

Degrowth as an emerging social movement overlaps with radical activism for systemic change such as anti-globalization and climate justice, commons and transition towns, basic income and Buen Vivir. The book “Degrowth in Movement(s). Exploring Pathways for Transformation” (Zer0 books, June 2020) reflects on the current situation of social movements and their relationship to degrowth. In this book launch, we present the book and critically discuss its key results with 2 authors and a commentator.

Presenters: Nina Treu (Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie), Matthias Schmelzer (Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie / University of Jena), Tadzio Müller (Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation), Julianna Fehlinger (ÖBV / Via Campesina Austria), Brototi Roy (tbc) (Research & Degrowth / Degrowth India)

Language: English with translation to German

Technical details: SP A5_Bookpresentation- Degrowth in movements.webm, WebM video, 233.1MB

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First North-South Conference on Degrowth-Descrecimiento, México City 2018 – La vía campesina y la soberanía alimentaria

Conferencia de la Plenaria del Miércoles por Alberto Gómez: “La vía campesina y la Soberanía alimentaria”

Degrowth in Movement(s): Exploring Pathways for Transformation

A dictionary of social movements and alternatives for a future beyond economic growth, capitalism, and domination.read more

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – On degrowth in the South: The Case of India

A thorough and detailed overview of the socioeconomic situation in India and the extent to which the Degrowth discourse can be extended in countries beyond the Global North. The speaker explores the aftermath of the neoliberalization of India: from GDP and billionaires growth to the extreme wealth gap alongside increasing inequality, unemployment, extreme air pollution, fossil fuels consumption, waste, diseases alongside social plagues such as dispossession and displacement. However, it also shows how everything is not happening unquestioned: social and environmental movements are operating themselves to have a voice in the crowd and they represent the alternative to what looks like a set path everywhere in the world, the westernized neoliberal growth fetish. Still the degrowth discourse must be careful and not reduce the issue to that same fetish alone, neglecting imperialism, extreme poverty and denied basic needs.

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – Science and degrowth

Presentation by Fabrice Flipo

Political prayers lie on the growth’s comeback to ensure financial incomes to be given out. That for science is seen by many essentially as a tool to provide techniques able to raise productivity, whatever the environmental or social consequences. For those reasons, and especially since the second half of the 20th century, public policy and investment have allowed unprecedented technical development and the economy of promises, the genuine aim of those efforts being hidden by the general concept of progress. Links between science and economical growth should be underlined and questioned. After rigorous definition of science and technoscience concepts, we will demonstrate and illustrate their entanglement with growth, thanks to economical theories and many examples of business-driven research. We will discuss the multiple roles of research and innovation for growth, which are broadening knowledge but also contributing to the emergence of problems and limiting the funding available for other kind of science activities. Taking into account that economical growth will no more be achievable, partly due to innovation stagnation, and no more desirable, members of the French NGO Citizen Sciences are questioning the future research and innovation system, pointing out the necessity of accurate choices for research agenda. According to a degrowth scenario, this scientists and citizens community imagines democratic tools, such as citizen conventions and research modalities promoting non-scientists engagement, in order to allow science that benefit to all citizens. We underlined the need for transdisciplinarity, low tech orientations and social innovations in research.

Degrowth Conference Budapest, 2016 – Has degrowth outgrown its own name? In defence of an ugly frame.

Presentation by Federico Demaria

Degrowth was first used and find its roots in the 1970s debate of the limits to growth. At the beginning of the 2000s it was launched as a slogan by activists, and in the following decade turned into a frame for a social movement as well as a concept debated in academia. Although its origins have been traced (Demaria et al 2013), two main issues remain contested and in need of clarification: 1) its meaning(s) and 2) the appropriateness of the term to express such meaning.

Degrowth was first used in French (décroissance), a word meaning reduction. However, it shall not be understood literally: a call for a reduction of GDP. It was in fact launched as a missile word to strike down the hegemonic imaginary of economic growth. D’Alisa et al 2014 clarify that it does not mean ‘less of the same’ (i.e. recession), but emphasizes the different, a part from the less.

First, this paper aims to clarify the contentious meaning of degrowth. For instance, how shall the less and different be understood? A more nuanced understanding is needed.

Second, this paper intends to articulate a defense of the term itself. Some scholars and activists, despite agreeing broadly with both the diagnosis and prognosis offered by degrowth, challenge its own name (e.g. Raworth, 2015). They highlight issues such as: “good things should grow, and bad ones degrow”, “we need a positive slogan” or “degrowth remains stuck in the same framework, the one of growth” and so on. We argue that most of these objections emerge out of a misunderstanding of what degrowth actually means. In order to do so, we review the literature and mobilize the concept of frame studied by cognitive science and social movement theory