The Good Life Beyond Growth : New Perspectives book cover
1st Edition

The Good Life Beyond Growth
New Perspectives

ISBN 9781138687882
Published August 16, 2017 by Routledge
288 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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

Serge Latouche

2 Buen Vivir: A Proposal with Global Potential

Alberto Acosta

3 Available, Accessible, Attainable.

The Mindset of Growth and the Resonance Conception of the Good Life

Hartmut Rosa

4 Resonance and the Romantic era:

A Comment on Rosa’s Conception of the Good life

Charles Taylor

II Beyond the Growth Paradigm: Alternative Conceptions of the Economic

5 A Philosophy of Ecological Economics

Manfred-Max Neef

6 Productivity, Property, and Violence: A Critique of liberal justifications of Growth

Christoph Henning

7 Growth regimes and visions of the good life: Why capitalism will not deliver

Dennis Eversberg

8 Political Economic Conditions of a Good Life beyond Growth

Andrew Sayer

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

Nicole Mayer-Ahuja

11 Income Distribution for a Sane Society

Philippe Van Parijs & Yannik Vanderborght

12 How not to argue against Growth: Happiness, Austerity and Inequality

John O'Neill

IV Subjects beyond Growth: Changing Practices

13 Happiness, the Common Good, and Volunteer Work

Bettina Hollstein

14 Is Love still a Part of the Good Life?

Eva Illouz

15 Empowering Ourselves in the Transformation to a Good Life beyond Growth

Felix Rauschmayer

16 Subjective Limits to Growth and the Limits to a Life-Style Oriented Critique of Growth

Stefanie Graefe

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

Sarah White

19 Europe, Capitalist Landnahme and the Economic-Ecological Double Crisis:

Prospects for a Non-Capitalist Post-Growth Society

Klaus Doerre

20 Toward radical Alternatives to Development

Ashish Kothari


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Hartmut Rosa is Professor of Sociology at the University of Jena, Co-director of the Kolleg Postwachstumsgesellschaften in Jena (with Klaus Dörre) and Director of the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt.

Christoph Henning is Junior Fellow for Philosophy at the Max-Weber-Kolleg for advanced Cultural and Social Studies, University of Erfurt, Germany.


'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