Many countries have experienced a decline of economic growth for decades, an effect that was only aggravated by the recent global financial crisis. What if in the 21st century this is no longer an exception, but the general rule? Does an economy without growth necessarily bring hardship and crises, as is often assumed? Or could it be a chance for a better life? Authors have long argued that money added to an income that already secures basic needs no longer enhances well-being. Also, ecological constraints and a sinking global absorption capacity increasingly reduce the margin of profitability on investments. Efforts to restore growth politically, however, often lead to reduced levels of social protection, reduced ecological and health standards, unfair tax burdens and rising inequalities. Thus it is time to dissolve the link between economic growth and the good life.
This book argues that a good life beyond growth is not only possible, but highly desirable. It conceptualizes "the good life" as a fulfilled life that is embedded in social relations and at peace with nature, independent of a mounting availability of resources. In bringing together experts from different fields, this book opens an interdisciplinary discussion that has often been restricted to separate disciplines. Philosophers, sociologists, economists and activists come together to discuss the political and social conditions of a good life in societies which no longer rely on economic growth and no longer call for an ever expanding circle of extraction, consumption, pollution, waste, conflict, and psychological burnout.
Read together, these essays will have a major impact on the debates about economic growth, economic and ecological justice, and the good life in times of crisis.
'The book offers a distinct approach to the issue of growth, in which it may contribute to a significant transformation of the debate on (de)growth. In so doing, perhaps, it may then aid in the task of reshaping the political categories of modern liberalism itself.' Oscar Kruger, Environmental Values
‘This book will inspire a much needed international debate on redefining well-being and re-thinking the economy.’ — Andreas Novy, head of the Institute of Multi-Level Governance and Development, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Italy
List of Figures and Tables
List of Contributors
Hartmut Rosa & Christoph Henning
I Foundations: Alternative Conceptions of the Good Life
1 The Misadventures of the Good Life between Modernity and Degrowth:
From Happiness to Buen Vivir
2 Buen Vivir: A Proposal with Global Potential
3 Available, Accessible, Attainable.
The Mindset of Growth and the Resonance Conception of the Good Life
4 Resonance and the Romantic era:
A Comment on Rosa’s Conception of the Good life
II Beyond the Growth Paradigm: Alternative Conceptions of the Economic
5 A Philosophy of Ecological Economics
6 Productivity, Property, and Violence: A Critique of liberal justifications of Growth
7 Growth regimes and visions of the good life: Why capitalism will not deliver
8 Political Economic Conditions of a Good Life beyond Growth
III The Good Society: Alternative Conceptions of Social Justice and Wellbeing
9 The Common Good as a Principle of Social Justice
Michael J. Thompson
10 Bread and Roses. ‘Good work’ from a Union Perspective
11 Income Distribution for a Sane Society
Philippe Van Parijs & Yannik Vanderborght
12 How not to argue against Growth: Happiness, Austerity and Inequality
IV Subjects beyond Growth: Changing Practices
13 Happiness, the Common Good, and Volunteer Work
14 Is Love still a Part of the Good Life?
15 Empowering Ourselves in the Transformation to a Good Life beyond Growth
16 Subjective Limits to Growth and the Limits to a Life-Style Oriented Critique of Growth
V One World without Growth: Alternative Conceptions of the Political
17 The Good life of Nations: A Global Perspective
Martin Fritz & Max Koch
18 Cultures of Wellbeing in the South: Lessons to learn
19 Europe, Capitalist Landnahme and the Economic-Ecological Double Crisis:
Prospects for a Non-Capitalist Post-Growth Society
20 Toward radical Alternatives to Development