Degrowth from a transitional perspective

20 08 2013

ESA 2013Paper to be presented at the
European Sociological Association 11th Conference
in Turin
(Panel “Practices of Transformation Beyond Growth and Paths of Transition”),
31st August 2013.


Broadly speaking, the theme of “sustainable degrowth”, as an alternative collective project, has mostly been presented and justified as a new common horizon allowing populations to find solutions to current challenges concerning ecological sustainability and human living conditions. However, if it is a question of moving from one state to another one with different characteristics, the problem will be to find a transition. For this project to be credible, a process of reflection should be undertaken about such a transition that would allow a movement towards a “sustainable degrowth”, and notably about the manner and modalities of this transformation. From this point of view, while it is a question of turning away from paths considered to be harmful, propositions about “degrowth” suffer from not truly being linked to a theory of change. And yet, this theory appears to be essential to conceive the conditions to which this type of vast project could apply. As a starting point for moving forward, three foci of reflection are suggested, which prove to be determining factors because they also correspond to realms of confrontation that such a project would be faced with in the present world:

– the relationship with dominant values which largely influences the conditions of the diffusion and acceptance of ideas;

– the capacities of generalizing (counter-)practices and of facilitating the accumulation of alternative experiences;

– the possibilities of reducing structural constraints thanks to the coordination and networking of existing initiatives.

=> Download the paper




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