Degrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era (Paperback) book cover

Degrowth

A Vocabulary for a New Era

Edited by Giacomo D'Alisa, Federico Demaria, Giorgos Kallis

© 2015 – Routledge

220 pages | 3 B/W Illus.

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About the Book

Degrowth is a rejection of the illusion of growth and a call to repoliticize the public debate colonized by the idiom of economism. It is a project advocating the democratically-led shrinking of production and consumption with the aim of achieving social justice and ecological sustainability.

This overview of degrowth offers a comprehensive coverage of the main topics and major challenges of degrowth in a succinct, simple and accessible manner. In addition, it offers a set of keywords useful forintervening in current political debates and for bringing about concrete degrowth-inspired proposals at different levels - local, national and global.

The result is the most comprehensive coverage of the topic of degrowth in English and serves as the definitive international reference.

More information at: vocabulary.degrowth.org

View the author spotlight featuring events and press related to degrowth at http://t.co/k9qbQpyuYp.

Reviews

Dalisa’s book is an excellent introduction to the politics of "degrowth" in its different meanings and dimensions that are analyzed and catalogued in dozens of entries providing an indispensable point of reference for anyone interested in joining the debates surrounding this perspective. It is also an eye-opener to the evolution of the concept. For as the editors’ introduction demonstrates, ‘degrowth’ for many signifies a variety of initiatives —time banks, local currencies, urban gardens, solidarity economies— proposing an alternative to capitalist accumulation and the reconstruction of our reproduction on more cooperative terms. This then is a volume that those committed to building non exploitative relations will need to consult as it offers a map to the world of alternatives to capitalisms.

Silvia Federici, Professor Emerita of Social Science at Hofstra University, Hempstead.

At a time in history when political, economic and intellectual leaders assure us that nothing fundamental can any longer be questioned, nothing could be more important than the movement - of thought, and of action – that this volume on Degrowth represents. It raises the prospect of finally ejecting the twin demons of productivism and consumerism that are responsible for so many historical failures of the left as well as the right, and begins to set about the real work of imagining and building a society fit for human beings to live in.

David Graeber, Professor of Anthropology at London School of Economics, London.

This book is one of the most thorough and insightful presentations and discussion of economic theory and practice in the field of de-growth economics, a revolutionary attempt to understand the economy as if humans and Nature matter.

Manuel Castells, Professor Emeritus of City And Regional Planning, University of California, Berkeley.

A thought-provoking, wide-ranging, spirited, and deeply original analysis; this book is a must-read on degrowth debates.

Karen Bakker, Professor and Canada Research Chair Director, Program on Water Governance, Universty of British Columbia, Vancouver.

"DeGrowth: A Vocabulary for a New Era" illuminates diverse concepts for clear thinking, provides us with new languages for political discourse, and outlines the many steps we can take to recreate our economy, our lives, and our relations to planet Earth. Call it what you want: happiness, living within limits, community, real democracy – DeGrowth both calls and empowers us to bold action.

Richard Norgaard, Professor Emeritus of Energy and Resources, University of California, Berkeley.

This dictionary is a vital resource for those who want to engage with the diverse networks of ideas and traditions, analytical concepts and theories known as Degrowth. It is also one indispensable compass to find orientation in the complex simplicity of alternatives.

Massimo De Angelis Professor of Political Economy and Development at the University of East London, London.

Humanity has already crossed the ecological limits of the earth; we have been terrible guests of our planet. Radical steps to reduce our impacts are our most crucial task, particularly so for those parts of the world that have been responsible for unsustainable development pathways. It needs to be heeded even by so-called 'developing' countries as they blindly follow the same pathways. Degrowth is very much a part of the global search for alternative ways of human well-being that are sustainable and equitable, and this book offers a comprehensive exploration of its various dimensions. The section on 'Alliances' from non-western perspectives is a bit thin, but a welcome beginning to the possibilities of a truly global framework of values that could lead us out of our collective planetary crisis.

Ashish Kothari, member of Kalpavriksh, Puna; and co-author of "Churning the earth: The Making of Global India".

Reinventing the growth trajectory is equally critical for the rest of the world in this age of climate risk and present and future danger. Degrowth is then the new vocabulary that we must learn and practice.

Sunita Narain, Director of the Centre of Science and Environment Delhi; and editor of the magazine Down To Earth.

In times marked by political stupor, it is refreshing to have such a light-footed guide through a universe of anti-mainstream ideas ranging from conviviality to Ubuntu, and from urban gardening to entropy.

Marina Fischer-Kowalski, Founder and long-term of the Institute of Social Ecology at Alpen Adria University, Vienna.

For the poor to grow up to a steady-state economy that is sufficient for a good life and sustainable for a long future, the rich must make ecological space by de-growing down to the same sufficient (not luxurious) steady-state level. Essays in this collection recognize the necessity to face this difficult convergent task of justly sharing our finite world.

Herman Daly, Emeritus Professor of Ecological Economics at University of Maryland, Maryland.

The editors invite the reader to make their own voyage through this book. It is sage advice, for readers will wander through a wonderland of radical thoughts, intriguing observations and bold visions for a different kind of world. It's exciting and deeply subversive.

Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Sturt University and University of Melbourne, Melbourne. Author of Growth fetish and Earthmasters

We know that there are limits of growth just as there are limits to growth. The former teaches us that beyond a certain size of the economy, certainly as measured by GDP, more growth does't increase welfare but reduces it, so that society would be better off with less GDP. Many "advanced" countries today are already beyond that point and are experiencing what herman daly calls "uneconomic growth." This exciting book is a pioneering exploration of the recently come-of-age field of degrowth economics and policy. It will be landmark for all those who want to transcend the growth fetish that has so many enthralled today.

James Gustave Speth, Professor of Law at the Vermont Law School, Royalton. Author of "America the possible: manifesto for a new economy."

We really need to develop a vocabulary for a new era, and this timely book takes us a great step forward by providing an impressive collection of concepts and ideas related to the degrowth debate. It is a very useful resource for both newcomers and seasoned participants. Due to the broad coverage, everyone can find inspiration and new links between ideas by following one’s own personal track through the entries – it is a pleasure.

Inge Røpke, Professor of Ecological Economics Aalborg University, Copenhagen.

This volume is indispensable for anybody interested in moving beyond mere retrofit solutions to the most important economic and ecological conundrums of our time. This book helps bury several oxymoron-constructs masquerading as solutions to the human predicament. It achieves this by landing definitive intellectual and political blows to both the desirability and possibility of unfettered economic growth as a panacea for all ills.

Deepak Malghan, Professor of Ecological Economics at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, India, and Princeton University, USA

What a splendid vocabulary! A range of international authors brilliantly surveys the emerging field of an economics which bids farewell to the obsession of growth. The entries are compact yet eloquent, learned yet action-oriented. In the new style of economic thought, ideas like sharing, frugality, debt-free money, dematerialization, and digital commons play a leading role. Whoever wants to know more about an economy of permanence for the 21th century should reach for this book.

Wolfgang Sachs, Professor of Social Science at the Wuppertal Institute, Berlin. Editor of: "The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power".

In this timely and important (both academically and politically) contribution, D’Alisa, Demaria and Kallis offer the definitive collection on Degrowth. Comprising 51 compelling contributions by key international scholars, the collection juxtaposes in a critical manner the economic, social, political, and ecological aspects of the Degrowth thesis, to mainstream debates on economic development, sustainable growth and environmental (in)justice. This is an invaluable source of knowledge and inspiration for anyone interested academically or politically in alternative ways of thinking and acting about the environment and development. The collection is of interest to economists, political scientists, ecologists, geographers, planners, environmentalists, activists, development scholars, anthropologists, policy makers, and to anyone who wishes to think and act in ways that transcend the current environmental and economic impasse.

Maria Kaika, Professor in Human Geography, University of Manchester, Manchester.

Degrowth takes the false coin of economic growth via capital accumulation and confronts it head on: There is no wealth but life and to protect life on the planet and to ensure the future for all it is necessary to exit the current system of production. This is the essential message for our time.

John Bellamy Foster, professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, Eugene; and editor of Monthly Review and author of "Marx’s ecology".

Degrowth thinking is a strategic meeting place for many trends in contemporary environmental politics, and this encyclopaedic compendium, at once widely accessible and deeply informative, will be invaluable in advancing the work of both academics and activists committed to building eco-sufficiency and global justice.

Ariel Salleh, Professor of Social Science at Friedrich Schiller University, Jena.

Degrowth is more than just an idea: it is a dream. A recurrent, collective dream that has spread from philosophers and visionary economists to a variety of social movements that have put it into practice by activating economies of care. Born in the 1970s, it has survived the neo-liberal hegemony and – as this book convincingly shows – has gone more political (and more feminist) through collective thinking and social practices such as squatting, urban agriculture, work-sharing, and other forms of common-ing, developed in the last decade. Like it or not, this persistence of the concept must be recognized, and credit given to its capacity of spurring new debates and new forms of social mobilization, appealing to all those who continue to see ‘growth’ as a false solution to social problems and a true disaster for the environment.

Stefania Barca, Environmental Historian at University of Coimbra, Coimbra.

Breaking away from myths has always been difficult…But this is the spirit of the contributions of this book which ask: will it be possible to escape from the monster of growth? The answer is simple. It is is not only possible, but indispensable. But is also not sufficient. We also need to think new utopias to orient us. And these one can find in this book … Those utopias imply a critique of perverse reality as well as the patient construction in solidarity of new and diverse options. …Alternatives imagined collectively and implemented democratically…

Alberto Acosta, Economist and ex-President of the National Constitutional Assembly of Ecuador

For new ideas on de-growth like frugality, sobriety, dematerialization and digital commons to sink in, the editors have assembled keywords and concepts to construct a language that can take the discourse on de-growth forward. The book is not prescriptive but suggestive in nature, inviting readers to make their own voyage and reach their own sense of what de-growth means to them. It is a must read for all those who firmly believe that modern economy has reached its dead-end.

Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma, Independent Environmental Consultant

This book should be compulsory reading for all students in universities and sixth form colleges everywhere. The authorities would be well advised to ban it. Perhaps, as in ‘Fahrenheit 451’, in the transition to degrowth global societies idealists will memorize some of these short and inspiring prose poems showing that another world is possible.

Leslie Sklair, London School of Economics

Table of Contents

Preface Giacomo D'Alisa, Federico Demaria, Giorgios Kallis Foreword Francois Schneider and Fabrice Flipo

Introduction: Degrowth Giorgios Kallis, Federico Demaria, Giacomo D'Alisa

Part 1: Lines of thought 1.Anti-utilitarianism: Onofrio Romano 2. Bio-economics: Mauro Bonaiuti 3. Development, Critiques of: Arturo Escobar 4. Environmental Justice: Isabelle Anguelovski 5. Environmentalism, Currents of: Joan Martinez-Alier 6. Metabolism, Societal: Alevgul Sorman 7. Political ecology: Susan Paulson 8. Steady-state economics: Joshua Farley

Part 2: The core 9. Autonomy: Marco Deriu 10. Capitalism: Diego Andreucci and Terrence McDonough 11. Care: Marco Deriu, Giacomo D’Alisa and Federico Demaria 12. Commodification Erik Gomez 13. Commodity frontiers: Marta Conde and Mariana Walter 14. Commons: Silke Helfrich and David Bollier 15. Conviviality: Marco Deriu 16. Dematerialization: Sylvia Lorek 17. Dépense: Onofrio Romano 18. Depoliticization ("the Political"): Erik Swyngedouw 19. Disaster Pedagogy: Serge Latouche 20. Entropy: Sergio Ulgiati 21. Emergy: Sergio Ulgiati 22. GDP: Daniel O'Neil 23. Growth: Peter Victor 24. Happiness: Filka Sekulova 25. Imaginary, Decolonization of: Serge Latouche 26. Jevons' paradox: Blake Alcott 27. Neo-Malthusians: Joan Martinez-Alier 28. Peak oil: Christian Kerschner 29. Simplicity: Samuel Alexander 30. Social limits of growth: Giorgos Kallis

Part 3: The Action 31. Back-to-the-landers: Rita Calvario and Iago Otero 32. Basic and maximum income: Samuel Alexander 33. Community currencies: Kristoffer Dittmer 34. Cooperatives: Nadia Johanisova, Ruben Suriñach Padilla and Philippa Parry 35. Debt audit: Sergi Cutillas, David Llistar and Gemma Tarafa 36. Digital commons: Mayo Fuster Morell 37. Disobedience: Xavier Renou 38. Eco-communities: Claudio Cattaneo 39. Indignados (Occupy): Viviana Asara and Barbara Muraca 40. Job Guarantee: Brandon Unti 41. Money, Public: Mary Mellor 42. New Economy: Tim Jackson 43. Nowtopians: Chris Carlsson 44. Post-normal science: Giacomo D’Alisa and Giorgios Kallis 45. Unions: Denis Bayon 46. Urban Gardening: Isabelle Anguelovski 47. Work-sharing: Juliet Schor

Part 4: Alliances 48. Buen Vivir: Eduardo Gudynas 49. Economy of permanence: Chiara Corazza and Victus Solomon 50. Feminist economics: Antonella Picchio 51. Ubuntu: Mogobe B. Ramose

Epilogue: From austerity to dépense: Giacomo D'Alisa, Giorgios Kallis and Federico Demaria

About the Editors

Giacomo D'Alisa is Research Fellow at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.

Federico Demaria is aPhD candidate at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.

Giorgios Kallis is Research Professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain.

The three editors are members of Research & Degrowth, www.degrowth.org

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUS000000
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / General
BUS072000
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
BUS099000
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Environmental Economics
POL044000
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy