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Living degrowth - a transformative endeavour? : investigating practices, motivations and challenges of living for a new era

Brossmann, Johannes LU (2017) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20171
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Our world is experiencing accelerated ecological destruction and social injustices on different scales and multiple levels. Unchecked economic growth has been criticised as causing this since the 1970s, but the dominant sustainable development paradigm has perpetuated the belief that economic growth and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand. In response degrowth has emerged in the last decade as a frame for a re-politicized, re-radicalized critique of capitalist growth-society, and as a proposal for radical change. However, to achieve such change more people need to become transformative agents.

While degrowth literature portrays an awareness of this problem, the question how more people can be encouraged for a degrowth future... (More)
Our world is experiencing accelerated ecological destruction and social injustices on different scales and multiple levels. Unchecked economic growth has been criticised as causing this since the 1970s, but the dominant sustainable development paradigm has perpetuated the belief that economic growth and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand. In response degrowth has emerged in the last decade as a frame for a re-politicized, re-radicalized critique of capitalist growth-society, and as a proposal for radical change. However, to achieve such change more people need to become transformative agents.

While degrowth literature portrays an awareness of this problem, the question how more people can be encouraged for a degrowth future remains challenging. This thesis relates to this challenge with the aim of making degrowth thinking more accessible and tangible by understanding how degrowth is viewed and enacted through the lens of the subject. Drawing upon practice theory, I investigate degrowth as a lived experience, uncovering practices, motivating and supporting factors and related challenges of living for a new era.

This study is informed by critical participatory action research and based on insights gathered through performative methods – a novel research approach in sustainability science. I applied these methods in collaboration with a colleague through co-creating and co-facilitating a two-day participatory theatre-workshop with members of a degrowth reading group in Barcelona. In addition I conducted extensive interviews with three degrowth-scholars.

Overall this research provides a preliminary account of living degrowth by portraying a diverse range of interrelated practices grouped in five spheres: (1) Rethinking society, (2) Acting political, (3) Creating alternatives, (4) Fostering connections and (5) Unveiling the self. Multiple ideas guide these practices, with social justice and ecological sustainability at the core. Furthermore I found that each sphere of practices can be related to certain motivating and supporting factors and that various challenges, conflicts and contradictions appear inherent to living degrowth. Finally in this thesis I conceptualize living degrowth as an endeavour that transforms problematic realities into imagined futures in multiple realms. The transformative practices of living degrowth are concerned with theoretical, political, material, economical, social and personal dimensions of world and life. This points to the importance for sustainability science to investigate and foster transformations in all domains and at all levels, reaching from the outer to the inner and vice versa. (Less)
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author
Brossmann, Johannes LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
degrowth, performative methods, practice theory, critical participatory action research, transformative practices, sustainability science
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2017:041
language
English
id
8916703
date added to LUP
2017-06-20 13:17:20
date last changed
2017-06-21 07:53:56
@misc{8916703,
  abstract     = {Our world is experiencing accelerated ecological destruction and social injustices on different scales and multiple levels. Unchecked economic growth has been criticised as causing this since the 1970s, but the dominant sustainable development paradigm has perpetuated the belief that economic growth and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand. In response degrowth has emerged in the last decade as a frame for a re-politicized, re-radicalized critique of capitalist growth-society, and as a proposal for radical change. However, to achieve such change more people need to become transformative agents. 

While degrowth literature portrays an awareness of this problem, the question how more people can be encouraged for a degrowth future remains challenging. This thesis relates to this challenge with the aim of making degrowth thinking more accessible and tangible by understanding how degrowth is viewed and enacted through the lens of the subject. Drawing upon practice theory, I investigate degrowth as a lived experience, uncovering practices, motivating and supporting factors and related challenges of living for a new era.

This study is informed by critical participatory action research and based on insights gathered through performative methods – a novel research approach in sustainability science. I applied these methods in collaboration with a colleague through co-creating and co-facilitating a two-day participatory theatre-workshop with members of a degrowth reading group in Barcelona. In addition I conducted extensive interviews with three degrowth-scholars.

Overall this research provides a preliminary account of living degrowth by portraying a diverse range of interrelated practices grouped in five spheres: (1) Rethinking society, (2) Acting political, (3) Creating alternatives, (4) Fostering connections and (5) Unveiling the self. Multiple ideas guide these practices, with social justice and ecological sustainability at the core. Furthermore I found that each sphere of practices can be related to certain motivating and supporting factors and that various challenges, conflicts and contradictions appear inherent to living degrowth. Finally in this thesis I conceptualize living degrowth as an endeavour that transforms problematic realities into imagined futures in multiple realms. The transformative practices of living degrowth are concerned with theoretical, political, material, economical, social and personal dimensions of world and life. This points to the importance for sustainability science to investigate and foster transformations in all domains and at all levels, reaching from the outer to the inner and vice versa.},
  author       = {Brossmann, Johannes},
  keyword      = {degrowth,performative methods,practice theory,critical participatory action research,transformative practices,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {Living degrowth - a transformative endeavour? : investigating practices, motivations and challenges of living for a new era},
  year         = {2017},
}