Towards an urban degrowth: Habitability, finity and polycentric autonomism

Abstract: Over the last decade, degrowth has offered a concrete alternative to eco-modernization, projecting a society emancipated from the environmentally destructive imperative of competition and consumption. Urban development is the motor of economic growth; cities are therefore prime sites of intervention for degrowth activists. Nevertheless, the planning processes that drive urban development have yet to be questioned from a degrowth perspective. To clear a path for a degrowth urban agenda, this paper rethinks the institutions governing urban development in growth-dependent contemporary economies. It starts by problematizing the regional territorialization of economic competition, ideology of land scarcity, and institution of zoned property rights, which together make urban development an engine of growth. It then outlines three transitions toward urban degrowth, arguing for a regional imaginary of polycentric autonomism, a paradigm of finity in development, and care for habitability as principle of spatial organization.

Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space, January 2021

Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Between conversion and automotive consensus. Results of a transdisciplinary research project on the role of employees in the transformation of Austrian automotive industry

Workshop

In this Special Session, results of the CON-LABOUR research project will be presented, which during more than two years explored the opportunities and challenges of a social-ecological transformation in the Austrian automotive industry from the perspective of employees and their representations. We provide insight into the political economy of Austrian supplier industry and reflect on the political and institutional framework conditions for a successful transformation. The main part of the presentation offers insights into the employees’ perceptions of crisis and transformation, which were obtained through qualitative interviews with works councils and trade unions. We argue that a focus on employees is central to counteract the antagonism of climate protection and safeguarding of jobs, as well as to increase the legitimacy of transformation processes in the industrial workforce.

Presenters: Melanie Pichler (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna), Markus Wissen (Berlin School of Economics and Law), Nora Krenmayr (University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna)

Language: English with German translation

Technical details: WS G2.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 352MB

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What structural change is needed for a post-growth economy: A framework of analysis and empirical evidence

In order to avoid environmental catastrophe we need to move to a post-growth economy that can deliver rapid reductions in environmental impacts and improve well-being, independent of GDP growth. Such a move will entail considerable structural change in the economy, implying different goals and strategies for different economic sectors. So far there are no systematic approaches for identifying the desired shape of structural change and sectoral goals in terms of output, demand and employment. We present a novel analysis that addresses this gap by classifying economic sectors into groups with similar structural change goals. Our framework for the classification considers sectoral characteristics along three dimensions, which are (a) the final energy intensity, (b) the potential and desirability for labour productivity growth and (c) the relationship between labour productivity and the energy-labour ratio. We present empirical evidence on the three framework dimensions for economic sectors in the UK and Germany and derive structural change goals for the four sector groups representing particular combinations of the sector characteristics. Our analysis allows us to discuss the specific role of different economic sectors in the structural change envisioned in the post-growth transition and the most important challenges they might be facing.

Ecological Economics, 2021

Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Cars for Future? Future images of (car)mobility by technical-scientific actors

Presentation [part of the standard session “Mobilität, Transformationsdesign und imperiale Lebensweise“]

The climate-damaging emissions of road traffic and other social and environmental problems associated with transport point to the need to move away from individual car-mobility and towards a social-ecological transformation of mobility systems. This includes political, socio-economic and cultural changes. Though being central to this, the role of scientific and technological actors has been underlit in research and literature. Also in a just, ecologically sustainable society, technology are essential to the fulfilment of mobility and other needs. Technologies are necessary for approaching social-ecological transformation. This means that, also in future, those people who are intensively involved with technology will continue to play a relevant role. Therefore, the role of technical-scientific in a social-ecological transformation has to be considered. In our presentation, we will thus analyze to what extent technical scientists contribute to the stabilization of the automotive system while being able to create a basis for institutional change and to provide technological and social corridors for transformation.

Presenters: Nora Krenmayr (Universität für Bodenkultur, Wien), Esther Wawerda (Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie, Leipzig)

Technical details: Standard T2_Nora Krenmayr_Cars for Future.mp4,  MPEG-4 video, 69.5MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Degrowth and the overcoming of the imperial way of life

Presentation [part of the standard session “Mobilität, Transformationsdesign und imperiale Lebensweise“]

The basis of the presentation is the empirical work that is currently being developed in the context of the research internship at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Vienna, led by Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ulrich Brand. It examines concrete dimensions of life, namely nutrition (Food Rescue – Too Good to Go), living (SchloR – Schöner leben ohne Realgeld), and planned obsolescence (Repaircafé). Alternatives or niches are sought which implicitly and/or explicitly contribute to overcoming the imperial way of life towards a solidary way of life. It will deal with alternatives that “also arise from the political examination about one’s own way of life and the admission of alternative experience beyond the imperial way of life” (Brand/Wissen 2017: 169).

Presenters: Andrea Marjanovic (Universität Wien), Jana Hafner (Universität Wien), Walentina Pfug-Hofmayr (Universität Wien), Josef Mühlbauer (Universität Wien)

Technical details: Standard T2_ANDREA_MARJANOVIC_Degrowth und Versuche der Überwindung der imperialen Lebensweise.mp4,  MPEG-4 video, 59.3MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Framing strategies for sustainability policy in the Corona crisis

Presentation [part of the standard session “Mobilität, Transformationsdesign und imperiale Lebensweise“]

Whether the Corona crisis will promote or slow down the socio-ecological transformation is open – and thus shapeable. How can social-ecological topics be communicated in a reasonable way – and how rather not? This short impulse reflects on these questions referring to framing theories.

Presenters: Valentin Sagvosdkin (Cusanus Hochschule; Netzwerk plurale Ökonomik)

Technical details: Standard T2_Valentin Sagvosdkin_Framing-Strategien für Nachhaltigkeitspolitik in der Corona-Krise.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 44.8MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Self-experiments – personal transformation with leverage?

Presentation [part of the standard session “Mobilität, Transformationsdesign und imperiale Lebensweise“]

Self-experiments offer an opportunity for testing sustainable practices in a limited period of time concerning their effects and their fit with the rest of life. So they are an easy entry into the urgently needed social transformation towards sustainability. Based on our experience in the Karlsruhe Reallabor Quartier Zukunft, different forms of embedding self-experiments in research, practice and higher education will be introduced.

Presenters: Helena Trenks (Presenter) (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Sarah Meyer-Soylu (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Richard Beecroft (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Oliver Parodi (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Annika Fricke (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Andreas Seebacher (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS)

Technical details: Standard T2_Helena Trenks_Selbstexperimente – persönliche Transformation mit Hebelwirkung_.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 50.2MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Mobilität, Transformationsdesign und imperiale Lebensweise

Standard session (discussion following 4 presentations)

  1. Degrowth and the overcoming of the imperial way of life – video
    The basis of the presentation is the empirical work that is currently being developed in the context of the research internship at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Vienna, led by Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ulrich Brand. It examines concrete dimensions of life, namely nutrition (Food Rescue – Too Good to Go), living (SchloR – Schöner leben ohne Realgeld), and planned obsolescence (Repaircafé). Alternatives or niches are sought which implicitly and/or explicitly contribute to overcoming the imperial way of life towards a solidary way of life. It will deal with alternatives that “also arise from the political examination about one’s own way of life and the admission of alternative experience beyond the imperial way of life” (Brand/Wissen 2017: 169).
    Presenters: Andrea Marjanovic (Universität Wien), Jana Hafner (Universität Wien), Walentina Pfug-Hofmayr (Universität Wien), Josef Mühlbauer (Universität Wien)
  2. Cars for Future? Future images of (car)mobility by technical-scientific actors – video
    The climate-damaging emissions of road traffic and other social and environmental problems associated with transport point to the need to move away from individual car-mobility and towards a social-ecological transformation of mobility systems. This includes political, socio-economic and cultural changes. Though being central to this, the role of scientific and technological actors has been underlit in research and literature. Also in a just, ecologically sustainable society, technology are essential to the fulfilment of mobility and other needs. Technologies are necessary for approaching social-ecological transformation. This means that, also in future, those people who are intensively involved with technology will continue to play a relevant role. Therefore, the role of technical-scientific in a social-ecological transformation has to be considered. In our presentation, we will thus analyze to what extent technical scientists contribute to the stabilization of the automotive system while being able to create a basis for institutional change and to provide technological and social corridors for transformation.
    Presenters: Nora Krenmayr (Universität für Bodenkultur, Wien), Esther Wawerda (Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie, Leipzig)
  3. Framing strategies for sustainability policy in the Corona crisis – video
    Whether the Corona crisis will promote or slow down the socio-ecological transformation is open – and thus shapeable. How can social-ecological topics be communicated in a reasonable way – and how rather not? This short impulse reflects on these questions referring to framing theories.
    Presenters: Valentin Sagvosdkin (Cusanus Hochschule; Netzwerk plurale Ökonomik)
  4. Self-experiments – personal transformation with leverage? – video
    Self-experiments offer an opportunity for testing sustainable practices in a limited period of time concerning their effects and their fit with the rest of life. So they are an easy entry into the urgently needed social transformation towards sustainability. Based on our experience in the Karlsruhe Reallabor Quartier Zukunft, different forms of embedding self-experiments in research, practice and higher education will be introduced.
    Presenters: Helena Trenks (Presenter) (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Sarah Meyer-Soylu (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Richard Beecroft (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Oliver Parodi (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Annika Fricke (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS), Andreas Seebacher (Karlsruher Institut für Technologie/ Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS)

Language: German with English translation

Technical details: Standard T2_Standard Nachhaltigkeit, Transformation und Postwachstum.mp4, MPEG4 video, 311MB

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A degrowth perspective on the coronavirus crisis

This letter will consider three points in detail: first, how the COVID-19 crisis is by no means degrowth; second, how COVID-19 shows that degrowth is needed; and finally, why COVID-19 indicates the potential for a degrowth transformation.

Visions for Sustainability, vol. 14, december 2020

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 – Towards a City of Solidary Degrowth

Special session

Book presentation: How do we want to live, work, relax today and tomorrow? How do we create a good life for everyone in the city? While niche initiatives are already beginning to answer these questions, there is still a lack of comprehensive concepts and approaches to transformation that would outline a fundamentally different, solidarity-based city. The Degrowth City (Postwachstumsstadt) project dares to attempt this. As the current crisis is increasing pressure on the housing market, there is also a window of opportunity for radical change.

Presenters: Anton Brokow-Loga, Frank Eckhardt, Evelyn Markoni, Kris Krois, Timmo Krüger, Viola Schulze Dieckhoff, Christian Lamker

Language: German

Technical details: SP F_Towards a City of solidary Degrowth_Postwachstumsstadt_trimmed.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 412MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Transformation, Design and Utopias

Standard session (discussion following 2 presentations)

  1. Sustainability, transformation & utopias
    The presentation discusses the role of positive visions for a transformation towards a more ecologically sustainable and socially just society. Firstly, it is argued that in the context of modern societies something like ecological sustainability can already itself be regarded as a stark utopia. So far, no society exists that can be characterized as modern and whose metabolism is not based on the destructive exploitation of nature. The second part of the paper introduces the concepts of “concrete utopia” (Ernst Bloch & Rudi Dutschke) and “real utopias” (Erik Olin Wright). Finally, it is argued that both kinds of utopias are likely to be required to achieve profound social-ecological transformation that will probably take a considerable period of time.
    Presenters: Bernd Sommer (Europa-Universität Flensburg)
  2. Transformation by design? – video
    The central question of socio-ecological transformation is whether it will take place “by design” or “by disaster” (Sommer/Welzer 2014:27). In the discourse this question is rhetorically answered with “by design”. But what role does design play in social-ecological transformation? The lecture will present growth-related problems in design and give an overview of two main strategies. It deals with both: The challenges design has to face in a time of social-ecological crises, but also with its potential. All will be in reference to the student-organized teaching project “Degrow Design!” and the resulting publication.
    Presenters: Antonia Ney (Student. Lehrkraft WiSem2019 Bauhaus-Universität Weimar), Joy-Fabienne Lösel (Student. Lehrkraft WiSem2019 Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)

Language: German and English

Technical details: Standard T1_Transformation, Design and Utopias.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 643MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – Transformation by design?

Presentation [part of the standard session “Transformation, Design and Utopias“]

The central question of socio-ecological transformation is whether it will take place “by design” or “by disaster” (Sommer/Welzer 2014:27). In the discourse this question is rhetorically answered with “by design”. But what role does design play in social-ecological transformation? The lecture will present growth-related problems in design and give an overview of two main strategies. It deals with both: The challenges design has to face in a time of social-ecological crises, but also with its potential. All will be in reference to the student-organized teaching project “Degrow Design!” and the resulting publication.

Presenters: Antonia Ney (Student. Lehrkraft WiSem2019 Bauhaus-Universität Weimar), Joy-Fabienne Lösel (Student. Lehrkraft WiSem2019 Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)

Language: English

Technical details: Standard T1_Fabienne Lösel & Antonia Ney_Transformation by design_.mp4, MPEG-4 video,  629MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – A Green New Deal without growh

Presentation [part of the standard session “Institutional Change 2”]

The Green New Deal offers a powerful vision for how to deploy industrial policies to coordinate the overhaul of a country’s energy system and decarbonize its manufacturing and agricultural sectors. However given the elusiveness of absolute decoupling degrowth policies must accompany this transition.

Presenters: Riccardo Mastini (Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Autonomous University of Barcelona)

Language: English

Technical details: Standard AP1_RICCARDO_MASTINI_A Green New Deal without growth.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 45.6 MB

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Degrowth Vienna 2020 – A framework to move policy-making in the EU beyond growth

Presentation [part of the standard session “Institutional Change 2”]

The session introduces an online toolbox to guide policy-making beyond growth. Based on a literature review, we structure post-growth policies along 17 objectives, 101 transformative changes and 260 instruments. The framework shows what means other than economic growth can achieve political ends.

Presenters: Jonathan Barth (ZOE. Institute for Future-fit Economies)

Language: English

Technical details: Standard AP1_Jonathan Barth_A framework to move policy-making in the EU beyond growth.mp4, MPEG-4 video, 39.5 MB

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