Escaping from the economy: the politics of degrowth

Valérie Fournier (University of Leicester School of Management, Leicester, UK)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Publication date: 24 October 2008

Abstract

Purpose

Whilst there is a growing recognition of environmental degradation, the policies of sustainable development or ecological modernisation offered by national governments and international institutions seem to do little more than “sustain the unsustainable”. By promising to reconcile growth with the environment, they fail to question the economic principle of endless growth that has caused environmental destruction in the first place. In this context, alternatives based on critiques of growth may offer more promising grounds. The aim of this paper is to explore how the degrowth movement that emerged in France over the last decade resonates with, and can contribute to, green politics.

Design/methodology/approach

After locating the movement within environmental politics and providing a brief account of its development, the paper focuses on its core theme – escaping from the economy.

Findings

Here it is argued that the movement's main emphasis is not merely on calling for less growth, consumption or production, but more fundamentally, in inviting one to shift and re‐politicise the terms in which economic relations and identities are considered. This politicisation of the economy is discussed in terms of the movement's foregrounding of democracy and citizenship, and it is argued that the articulation of these two concepts may offer interesting points of departure for conceptualising and practising alternatives to consumer capitalism.

Originality/value

The final part of the paper explores how the degrowth movement's stance on democracy and citizenship could help address two problematic issues within environmental politics: that of inclusion, and motivation

Keywords

Citation

Fournier, V. (2008), "Escaping from the economy: the politics of degrowth", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 28 No. 11/12, pp. 528-545. https://doi.org/10.1108/01443330810915233

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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