Degrowth is the proposal that we can live a better, fairer and more just life, with less stuff. Less consumption, less pollution, less competition, less destruction. And in its stead: more time with your family and loved ones, the freedom to work or study without pressure, the valuing of care, reproductive work and social relations as the bedrock of society, active engagement with democratic decision-making, and security in the knowledge that the ecosystems supporting human life are no longer on the verge of collapsing.
Many get squeemish when presented with degrowth - its name being somewhat offputting. Others opt for 'post-growth' or 'a-growth'. However you call it, what these all have in common is the desire to shift away from our current socio-economic system and build a new one. Below are some resources talking about how to do that.
WHAT IS DEGROWTH?
by Filka Sekulova, Federico Demaria, Francois Schneider and Joan Martinez-Alier, Environmental Values, 2013
In one of the clearest and most thorough descriptions of degrowth, the definition, origins, evolution, practices and construction of degrowth are discussed by members of Research & Degrowth. Degrowth’s multiple sources and strategies are explained and its basic definition layed out.
by Barbara Muraca, Environmental Values, 2013
Barbara Muraca explains the history of the concept of “décroissance” (degrowth) and analyses some of the most important sources of inspiration for degrowth, such as environmental justice, post-development, and political ecology. In the text, degrowth is understood as a radical project for societal transformation.
by Giorgos Kallis, In Defense of Degrowth, 2017
In this chapter from Kallis' book In Defense of Degrowth (downloadable free online) he outlines what degrowth is, defining it as first and foremost a re-radicalization of environmentalism, a return to the radical roots of the green movement of the 1970s, and as such a response to the de-politicizing discourse of “sustainable development”.
by John Cassidy, The New Yorker, 2020
This article outlines the emergence of degrowth into environmental discourse, while questionning the narrative of green growth and whether degrowth would come at too high of a cost.
by Federico Demaria, Giacomo d’Alisa and Giorgos Kallis (ed.), 2015
This overview of degrowth covers the main topics and major challenges of degrowth in an accessible manner. It offers and explains a set of keywords important to the ongoing degrowth debates.
by Jamie Tyberg, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, 2020
A timely intervention into the degrowth discussions, reorienting degrowth as a means to an end, that end being decolonization. Through the lens of the Green New Deal, and later the Red Deal, Tyberg ties together theory and real life examples highlighting how degrowth is, can, and must be, part of the post-COVID-19 response. Both an overview and review of the degrowth literature and an analysis of how degrowth can be utilized critically, Tyberg instructs us how we can use degrowth principles to strive and push for a true decolonized future, one we need to achieve.
LIFE AFTER GROWTH
Economics for Everyone
A short film by Leah Temper and Claudia Medina giving an overview of degrowth
Putting Degrowth to Practice
Policies and Proposals for a Degrowth Future The list of policies, strategies and proposals for bringing about a degrowth future is long and large - here are just a few of the most prominent ones for you to check out!
2 / Change the Money Supply
See Mary Mellor's book Money: Myths, Truths and Alternatives which debunks longstanding myths such as money being in short supply and needing to come from somewhere and argues that money’s immense social value means that its creation and circulation should be a matter of democratic choice. She sets out a new finance system, based on green and feminist concerns, to bring radical change for social good.
Also check out Positive Money's 'resources' section and new proposals for Degrowth and Modern Monetary Theory by Olk et al. in their paper "How to pay for saving the world: Modern Monetary Theory for a degrowth transition".
3 / Join Forces with All Allies
Read Valentine Moghadam's piece on the history of social movements and an assessment of the world's current situation. Her article (part of a larger series of articles on the globalisation of social movements) calls us to action and outlines how a movement of movements might just be possible.
Also check out the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, a global collaboration of organisations, alliances, movements and individuals working together to transform the economic system into one that delivers human and ecological wellbeing. And the Well-being, Ecology, Gender and cOmmunity – Innovation Training Network (WEGO-ITN), the first international feminist political ecology research network of its kind.
4 / Work Less
The New Economics Foundation has been arguing for a shorter wroking week for years. Check out their website for an array of different resources on the topic, and their book Time On Our Side.
6 / Join the campaign for A Debt Jubilee
Debt can be useful. It can help us to spread out the cost of useful investments. But it is also a tool by which the rich can exploit the poor. We have seen a pattern recur throughout history to the present day. Lenders and borrowers should have shared responsibility to ensure that debts are contracted and spent fairly and responsibly. But all too often, lenders shirk their responsibilities and exploit those who need to borrow. Join the campaign or learn more about it here.
7 / Crack down on Planned Obsolescence
Check out John Harris' article tackling the problem of planned obsolescence which gives an overview of several initiatives seeking to transform our way of relating to the products that we buy.
8 / Summary of Proposals
Two summaries of the various degrowth proposals, one by Giorgos Kallis here and the other by Jack Herring. For an updated academic overview of policy proposals see Fitzpatrick et al. "Exploring Degrowth Policy Proposals".
Finally, for a great in-depth look at all degrowth policy proposals, their shortcomings and how to move forwards with them, read Part III of Tim Parrique's dissertation "The Political Economy of Degrowth".
Some classic texts diving into degrowth for the real bookworms out there.