How I view ‘Degrowth’

Degrowth is a direct translation of the French term; ‘décroissance’, meaning reduction. The origins of degrowth can be said to have occurred in the 1970’s, originally found within the works of Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen.

The movement initially took precedence in France before spreading rapidly to other mainland European countries such as Spain and Belgium. Subsequent international conferences, notably Paris (2008) and Barcelona (2010), have since enhanced the advocation of degrowth within a truly international academic setting.

Degrowth offers a critique to the current ideologies of growth and looks to provide a vision for the future of a society which has removed itself from the inequalities and environmental issues which are invariably linked with consumer-capitalism. Thus, the main proposition of degrowth is the fundamental reduction of production and consumption.

Additionally, degrowth looks to offer a critique towards the notion that growth can be sustained within an eco-capitalist framework. To be more specific, degrowth calls into question the hegemonic, but clearly fallacious view, that sustainable ecological progress is compatible with economic growth. As Valerie Fournier proclaimed; “Whilst environmental concerns have moved centre stage of government and sometimes corporate agenda, the founding principles of Western patterns of consumption and production remain non-negotiable.”.

However, degrowth is not simply limited to critiquing other theories of development. Degrowth supporters advocate for a constructive change towards a more communal society, a society which is enhanced by cohesive policies such as work-sharing or a basic and maximum income. Ultimately, degrowth calls for a more simpler way of living, whereby capitalist attitudes of profit by any means is replaced with attitudes of communal care for one another. 

Such initiatives in a degrowth society would most likely include communal urban gardens, enhanced transport links, a reduction of advertising and marketing, and the promotion of sustainable living, as opposed to the continuation of consumer-capitalist ways of life.  Iris Borowy has successfully examined certain policies within a Cuban degrowth society, and can be viewed here.

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