Degrowth (French: décroissance) is a term used for both a political, economic, and social movement as well as a set of theories that criticise the paradigm of economic growth. Degrowth is based on ideas from political ecology, ecological economics, feminist political ecology, and environmental justice, arguing that social and ecological harm is caused by the pursuit of infinite growth and Western "development" imperatives.
Degrowth argues for a reduction in global consumption and production (social metabolism) and advocates a socially just and ecologically sustainable society with social and environmental well-being replacing gross domestic product (GDP) as the indicator of prosperity. Degrowth aims for social reorganisation that modifies the flow and usage of material. This restructuring aims to shift away from mainstream (capitalist) economic activity. While GDP is likely to shrink in a "degrowth society", i.e. in a society in which the objectives of the degrowth movement are achieved, this is not the primary objective of degrowth. The main argument of degrowth is that an infinite expansion of the economy is fundamentally contradictory to the finiteness of the Earth. Degrowth highlights the importance of autonomy, care work, self-organization, commons, community, open localism, work sharing, happiness and conviviality.
Critiques[edit | edit source]
Growth not necessarily harmful[edit | edit source]
A key criticism of degrowth is that economic growth itself is not the thing that causes harm. In many ways it causes benefits, including in creating resources for environmental protection.
The harmful effects of growth are not universally or irrevocably tied to growth. Economic growth from the installation of solar panels, the provision of human services such as therapy or the renting of bicycles each differs fundamentally from economic growth that derives from air travel, fossil fuel production or ocean trawling.
Where specific environmental impacts have been untied from economic growth, great improvement has been possible without degrowth. Examples include acid rain, ozone depletion, and (in limited cases so far) decarbonization of energy systems.
Degrowth advocates usually accept that decoupling is possible, eventually. But it is not coming fast enough to bring carbon emissions under control.
Political[edit | edit source]
Another common critique is political infeasibility. There are no popular political parties with a strong degrowth agenda.
See also[edit | edit source]
External links[edit | edit source]
- The Post Growth Institute
- Can we save the planet by shrinking the economy?, Kelsey Piper, Vox, 2021: The “degrowth” movement to fight the climate crisis offers a romantic, utopian vision. But it’s not a policy agenda.