No more business as usual: introducing the Degrowth Organisation and Economy Research Group

by Ben Robra, Iana Nesterova and Fabian Maier

As the ongoing crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic seems to illustrate once again, an unforeseen economic shock appears to threaten the very foundations of social life and indeed the livelihoods of people across the globe. With social distancing and lock-down measures in place, people were forced to stay at home and economic activity has been slowed down, at least temporarily.

In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, re-igniting the flame of excessive economic growth appears yet again as the overarching response and universal panacea by politicians and economists to counteract the severe crisis induced by the coronavirus. Thus, unbridled business activity and consumption is yet again the number one political measure to boost GDP figures, thereby continuing the fairy tales of endless growth.

However, seeing the COVID-19 pandemic as one crisis amongst multiple social, ecological, political and economic crises that are not just looming but are already in progress, puts this path increasingly into question. Moreover, the links of growth-obsessed capitalist economies to dire outcomes, such as, climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and soaring social inequalities, are becoming more and more obvious. In light of this crisis-prone tendency of growth, a return to a state of perceived normality and business as usual appears highly questionable and alarming. 

It is past time to think about alternatives to this way of life and to ask ourselves, how can we organise social life differently, in a more resilient and sustainable manner? Challenging the hegemony and ingrained notions of growth needs to necessarily incorporate radical questions about organisations in relation to transforming socio-economic systems.

For this reason, our newly formed Degrowth Organisation and Economy Research Group (@DegrowthOERG) aims to target these fundamental questions by looking at organisational projects that are critical and counter-hegemonic towards mainstream and taken-for-granted business theories. Dedicated to a radical change of economic organisation, we are studying alternative forms of organisation and work from a degrowth perspective.


Degrowth has significant implications for organisations and particularly economic organisations. The dominant economic organisations (i.e. corporations and other businesses) and their modus operandi, aligned with capital accumulation and productivism, do not fit degrowth and its principles. In other words, economic organisations that aim to accumulate capital and hence increase economic growth are incompatible with degrowth.

However, economic organisations do play a key role in transforming our society towards a sustainable degrowth society. As such, economic organisations are essential for the organisation of social life and the satisfaction of basic needs throughout society, to reach a good life for all in harmony with nature.

Therefore, exploring and studying organisations in the context of degrowth is crucial. Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to this area of enquiry thus far. The majority of publications available disregard core principles of degrowth such as anti-accumulation and matter-energy throughput reduction.

Various research has sought to reconcile business logics and degrowth. This can equally be understood as a reconciliation of capitalism and degrowth. Businesses, as the core reproducers of the capitalist hegemony and drivers of growth, are not compatible with degrowth. We comment on this shortfall of alignment in our recent blog post: Why degrowth should scare business.

So far, the translation of degrowth principles from the macro to the micro level have only marginally taken place in an organisational context. Thus, the aim of this new research group is to ratify and study alternative economic organisations extensively in the context of degrowth. We aim to halt what we believe is a co-optation of degrowth on the micro-economic level, by shifting the focus to concrete utopias of alternative organisations. 


We are (so far) three ‘young’ academics in various stages of our PhDs focusing on organisation and the political economy in the context of degrowth. While we are aware that there is increasing attention towards this topic (forthcoming special issue in Organization), we perceived a lack of official research groups that are tackling issues of organisation in the context of degrowth. Therefore, our research group wants to address these shortcomings by starting a conversation across multiple disciplines. We envision a collaborative group of researchers looking to fill the vast research gap within organisation from a degrowth perspective. Interested researchers, activists, and practitioners sharing our vision and/or experiment with ideas of degrowth are welcome to join us and start a collaboration. 

Find the Degrowth Organisation and Economy Research Group on twitter (@DegrowthOERG)

Ben Robra – is a PhD researcher at the University of Leeds in the Sustainability Research Institute. Ben studies organisations in connection to degrowth using both political economy and social systems theory. He has a keen interest in organisations utilising the digital commons and P2P collaboration.

Iana Nesterova – is an independent researcher based in the UK. She holds an MSc in International Business and Finance. Her PhD focused on small business transition towards degrowth. Iana’s research interests include social ecological economics on the micro level. Further, she is interested in the philosophical questions surrounding degrowth.

Fabian Maier – is a PhD researcher at Nottingham University with a background in organisation and critical management studies. Fabian studies cooperatives, grassroots and community-based organisations in relation to degrowth. He is interested in discourses around prefiguration, post-work, and solidarity economies. 

events, News

Introducing #DegrowthTalks

2020 was supposed to be the inaugural year of the UK Degrowth Summer School, an initiative organised by past attendees of the well-respected annual degrowth summer school held at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Unfortunately, due to the covid-19 crisis, the UK summer school – along with the Manchester degrowth conference it was scheduled to precede – has been postponed.

However, the summer school organising team have acted swiftly to organise instead a fantastic schedule of online talks, by some brilliant degrowth scholars. The talks are free and open to all, and will be streamed live via the Degrowth Talks youtube channel. See the poster below for details of the full schedule of talks. The first talk will take place on Wednesday 29th April, at 6pm BST. See you there! #DegrowthTalks #NoBackToNormal

Degrowth Talks youtube channel:

DegrowthTalks twitter: @DegrowthTalks

UK Degrowth Summer School website:

Republished pieces

Access to land plus a participation income could change the world

by Samuel Alexander and Alex Baumann

Our civilisation is facing an alarming barrage of overlapping crises, together presenting an existential threat to life as we know it. Climate breakdown is intensifying; we are decimating wildlife populations; and more generally the life-support system called Earth is trembling under the weight of overconsumption.

Just as concerning are the social consequences. The global economic system has produced deep, socially corrosive inequalities; poverty around the world is extreme; and worst of all, perhaps, is that even those who are ‘winning the rat race’ so often find that the promises of consumer lifestyles are unfulfilling.

Too much ink has been spilt already criticising this broken system. What about solutions and creative responses? In words often attributed to Albert Einstein, we cannot solve our problems with the same kinds of thinking that caused them.

In this article we’d like to offer some new thinking: a policy proposal that we feel has the potential to be transformative. At its simplest, our proposal involves providing self-selecting unemployed public housing residents with a basic, living wage. With housing and other basic needs secured, the goal would be to enable these public residents to participate voluntarily in the creation of ‘simple living’ communities and neighbourhoods that are sustainable, resilient, and consistent with human flourishing.

If successful, proposal is that these initial examples could be scaled up to support the economically ‘redundant’ and attract progressives across the political divide as a viable alternative for a sustainable society. Central to this vision is the recognition that access to land, just as with air and water, is not a market product. It is a human right and should be recognised as such. 

We need land to live simply

The great 19th century philosopher of ‘simple living’ Henry David Thoreau spent two years living on the shores of Walden Pond, where he built himself a small abode, grew his own food, and generally lived an abundant life of voluntary simplicity.

Thoreau also wrote an amazing book called Walden, in which he presented a fiery critique of the emerging consumer culture in the United States and a beautiful defence of simple living. Both his example and his words are inspiring – and, in an age of overconsumption, more important today than ever before. In a key passage, he writes:

I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one’s self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely.   

But Thoreau’s living experiment at Walden Pond depended on access to land, which is the prime barrier to people living simply and sustainable today. It is hard to follow his example of sufficiency-based living, even for those of us who want to. After all, most of us have to work full time in an unsustainable growth economy just to afford somewhere to live. 

The huge cost of land and housing has significant implications, affecting what we do for work, how much we work, our need for a car, and a range of other consumer habits. Our economy has developed in such perverse ways (particularly when it comes to land cost) that we are often locked into high-impact consumerist lifestyles.  

There is absolutely no way affluent consumption practices of the developed regions of the world can be globalised to all 7.7 billion people on the planet today, let alone the 9.7 billion expected by 2050. Technology alone cannot solve this ecological contradiction. If we are to respond effectively to the overlapping crises of our times, we need to empower individuals, households, and communities to transcend consumer culture and embrace a ‘simpler way’ of life, like Henry Thoreau.

Our policy would enable low-impact living for more people, by providing access to land (in the form of secure housing) and a ‘participation income’ – a Walden Wage, if you like.

Let us explain how it could work.   

Access to Land is Fundamental: Unpacking the Vision  

At its simplest, the Walden Wage is similar to a ‘voluntary-work-for-the-dole’ scheme – but with a twist and a grand vision that we will share. The policy’s most important feature is linking a secure but modest income with access to public land and housing.

This housing and income option would be offered (at first) to unemployed people who are already in, or on the top of the waiting list for, public housing. These public residents would ‘self-select’ to be involved in around 15 hours per week of local community programs, like growing food, maintaining the neighbourhood, facilitating sharing schemes, or even building new homes.   

In other words, the Walden Wage would provide a ‘participation income’ for jobless public residents wanting to engage in the necessary work of creating new forms of sufficiency-based living, enabled by access to land.

The ‘wage’ part of this scheme has some similarity to the notion of a ‘basic income’, which is being talked about a lot these days. However, there are some critical differences. The primary difference is that it would be offered, not universally, but only in the context of public housing and community development – as a minimal and sustainable living wage. This would make it affordable to governments, and since it is linked to access to public land and housing, people receiving the Walden Wage would not find themselves needing to ‘top up’ their incomes by engaging in an unsustainable growth economy in any significant way.

Interestingly, the fact that this income (through the voluntary-work-for the-dole-scheme) it is already available (in Australia) for unemployed people who are over 55, demonstrates that it has already been deemed affordable by government. And, unlike the UBI, it would neither be universal (i.e. paid to all citizens) nor promote or depend on a limitless growth economy to fund it. Indeed, a Walden Wage would function to support the building of a new form of sustainable economy, based on a new land governance arrangement and sufficiency-based, community economies. If over 55s could show a viable pilot, we believe this option could easily be extended to under 55s who are unemployed in public housing.

Land, we should add, would still be owned by the Commonwealth, and residents would pay 25% of their income in rent. Without having the expense of private land and housing, a modest participation income is all that would be required to live well. If we assume that income is a rough proxy for environmental impact, we can also say that the Walden Wage would imply roughly an 85% reduction in impacts compared to the national average, on the basis that the dole ($489.70 per fortnight) is roughly 15% of the average Australian income.

Given the security of public housing and the many benefits of local collaborative development, this wage could be sufficient and even desirable. If shown to be viable, it’s a way of living that represents a massive reduction in market dependence and certainly puts it in the ballpark of global sustainability.

The Benefits and Prospects

The best thing about this seemingly radical idea is that it isn’t actually that radical. With the right supports, it could actually begin now – given that the policy settings are already in place to allow public residents, who are over 55, to self-select into voluntary-work-for-the-dole programs. Such a pilot, if well-conceived, could show that access to land plus a participation income could help build new forms of sustainable economy.  If this pilot showed some success, it’s not hard to see how one pilot could turn into two, and even be offered to some willing participants who were under 55.

The next phase could be slightly more ambitious. If governments could provide some more land, these public residents could not just develop community economies around existing public housing projects, but actually participate in the building of their own homes, in collaboration with others, and under the guidance of experts. This would also reduce pressure on existing public housing, giving others the opportunity to participate in this scheme.

Also, providing these public residents with such an opportunity, coupled with a voluntary-work–for-the-dole scheme (reframed as the Walden Wage), represents a shift many on the political right would want too, in the direction of less passive and more active forms of ‘welfare’.

In fact, this policy would totally reframe welfare for those who self-select.  If such an opportunity could be encouraged, the identity we give to public housing tenants who participate could begin to be uplifted and even celebrated. Their status in society, and how they might conceive of themselves, could move from being regarded as ‘social dependants’ to ‘pioneers of a new, social economy’.

What if things scaled up?

As more people are cast into unemployment by the automation of jobs, the globalisation of labour, or the phasing-out of high impact industries like fossil fuel power stations, it is highly likely that more and more people will require a new and sustainable housing and community development option like the one being proposed here. For this reason, we need bold new thinking and action now – and the courage to experiment with new housing and living arrangements. 

With the community economies we envision becoming increasingly self-reliant, it is not hard to see how this proposal, that started with the unemployed in public housing, could expand to include the growing numbers who have found themselves alienated from the market. This is where things get really interesting and where our policy shows most promise.

Once this local and cooperative sector of the economy started to flourish, we could imagine the sustainability dream coming into fruition – bike lanes weaving their way through food forests, with a few shared electric vehicles available for occasional use when necessary. We can imagine renewable energy micro-grids and large water tanks supporting these new communities on public land. And we can imagine people enriched by the process of participating in the building of their own sustainable homes (e.g. mudbrick), under expert supervision, and in collaboration with others. Soon enough, these pioneers (being liberated from a market mortgage or rent) would be living as free citizens in a thriving, local economy of sufficiency

This work building new sustainable communities would ‘earn’ or justify the small participation income, providing many benefits – not only to participants, but also to the broader neigbourhood. Through the participants 15 hours per week in local sustainable productivity (professionally run community gardens, resource share and repair programs etc.), many neighbours could opt to be involved and enjoy collaborative benefits. Neighbours could also enjoy a greater sense of community connectedness. Very importantly, all neighbours would also benefit from a much more sustainable future! 

Empirical studies show that that some simple living communities and strategies can reduce ecological impacts by up to 90% or more, which is arguably the scale of downshifting needed to bring developed nations within sustainable limits of the planet. Our policy provides an essential key to helping such sustainable communities and neighbourhoods proliferate, namely, by empowering people with access to land (thereby freeing them from the lifelong debt of the mortgage / rent and everything that goes along with it).

Over time, as the realities of globalised labour, technological job redundancy and environmental limits to consumer growth really start to kick in, why should we not imagine thousands of these ecovillages emerging within existing societies? If this happened, we might at last see the planned contraction of energy and resource demands that is so clearly necessary for any ‘degrowth’ transition to sustainable, steady state economy.  

Let governments be as ambitious as the Senegalese government, which is has announced a plan to establish and support 14,000 ecovillages.

Build a new model

Our wager, then, is this: if people are provided with affordable rent through public land and housing opportunities to undertake their own sufficiency-based living experiments like Henry Thoreau, then many people would do so. Access to land liberates people from market growth and facilitates ways of living consistent with degrowth.  At the very least, it makes sense to support all willing pioneers and encourage their skill development and empower them to build new worlds within the shell of the old.

As Buckminster Fuller once said: ‘You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.’

This is a republished version of an article first published on The Fifth Estate.

Dr Samuel Alexander is a lecturer with the Office for Environmental Programs and researcher with the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne. Most of his writing is freely available at: 

Dr Alex Baumann lectures in Sustainable Futures at the University of Western Sydney. He is also involved with the ‘Neighbourhood That Works’ sustainability project. 

Republished pieces

The suburbs are the spiritual home of overconsumption. But they also hold the key to a better future

Repost from The Conversation

Community managed micro-allotments, Malmö (photo M Burton)

The typical suburban backyard of the future? (with permission)

Samuel Alexander, University of Melbourne and Brendan Gleeson, University of Melbourne

Suburban affluence is the defining image of the good life under capitalism, commonly held up as a model to which all humanity should aspire.

More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities. Yet with the global economy already in gross ecological overshoot, and a world population heading for more than 11 billion, this way of living is neither fair nor sustainable.

To live within our environmental means, the richest nations will need to embrace a planned process of economic “degrowth”. This is not an unplanned recession, but a deliberate downscaling of economic activity and the closely correlated consumption of fossil energy. We don’t argue this is likely, only that it is necessary.

You might naturally assume this will involve pain and sacrifice, but we argue that a “prosperous descent” is possible. Our new book, Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary, envisions how this might unfold in the suburban landscapes that are currently emblematic of overconsumption.

Read more:
The ‘simple life’ manifesto and how it could save us

The well-known documentary The End of Suburbia presented a coherent narrative of a post-petroleum future, but got at least one thing wrong. There is not a single end to suburbia; there are many ends of suburbia (as we know it).

Reimagining the suburbs beyond fossil fuels

Suburban catastrophists such as James Kunstler argue that fossil fuel depletion will turn our suburbs into urban wastelands. But we see the suburbs as an ideal place to begin retrofitting our cities.

This won’t involve tearing them down and starting again. Typically, Australia’s built environment is turned over at less than 5% per year. The challenge is to reinhabit, not rebuild, the suburban landscape. Here are some of the key features of this reinvigorated landscape:

  • Suburbanites can and should retrofit their homes and develop new energy practices to prepare for an energy descent future.
  • Households must be encouraged to downshift consumerism, swapping superfluous “stuff” for more free time and other sources of meaning and well-being. An economics of sufficiency involves borrowing and sharing rather than always buying and upscaling.
  • We should reclaim and reimagine areas of the built environment that are misused or underused. The vast areas dedicated to car parking are but one example.
  • Finally, and most importantly, we should realise that change must come via grassroots political organisation, rather than waiting for growth-fixated governments to lead the way. This is not to deny the need for “top-down” structural change. Our argument is simply that the necessary action from governments will not arrive until there is an active culture of sufficiency that demands it.
Sharehouse food production. (with permission)

What social forces might produce this necessary but elusive urban transformation? We think it can be driven by two broad social groups: the disillusioned middle class and the exploited working class. These two groups, which already blur together along a spectrum, can potentially become a cohesive urban social movement of transformative economic and political significance.

The disillusioned middle class: radical downshifters

Our first groups consists of employed professionals, bureaucrats, and tradespeople who have secure housing, earn decent wages, and can direct significant portions of their income to discretionary spending. This sector of society participates, consciously or unconsciously, in what is often called “consumer culture”.

This consumerism often fails to fulfil its promise of a rich and meaningful life. The consumer class has been sold a lie, and many affluent consumers are now developing what social scientist Ronald Inglehart calls “post-materialist” goals and values. This emerging way of life involves seeking purpose and satisfaction in life through things other than material riches, including deeper community engagement, more time to pursue private passions, or even increased political action.

This is significant, for three reasons. First, history shows that social movements tend to be sparked by dissatisfaction with the status quo – otherwise, why would people resist or seek alternatives? The deep disillusionment with materialistic lifestyles provides an incentive to explore alternative, more satisfying ways to live and self-provide.

Second, by withdrawing their spending from the market economy, this emerging social movement can undermine that economy and fast-track its transformation.

Finally, a “radical downshifting” in consumption could allow people to free up their time by working less. This will provide people with more time to participate in building new forms of economy and engaging in collective action for change. The “voluntary simplicity movement” already numbers as many as 200 million people, although its potential depends on more organised and radical expressions.

The exploited working class: economic builders

Radical downshifters will never transform the economy on their own, and this is where our second group comes in. Working-class urbanites, while also drifting into superfluous consumption, are typically characterised as individuals and households who are “battling” to make ends meet.

Again, a growing dissatisfaction with the status quo provides the incentive to seek and participate in fundamental change. We are often told that Australia’s economy has grown uninterrupted for a quarter-century, yet many people feel their personal circumstances have stagnated.

There has indeed been growth, yet almost all the benefits have been siphoned away by the wealthy. Why would the working class owe any allegiance to a system that only benefits the rich? As the battlers realise they are being oppressed and duped by an unjust system, they threaten to become a dynamite class of explosive potential.

As economic crises threaten to intensify in coming years – including the challenge of automation – we maintain that the exploited working class may be driven to explore alternative ways to self-provide. As incomes become more meagre and jobs less secure, more people will need to seek alternative ways of meeting economic needs “beyond the market”.

A suburban home complete with mini market garden means fewer trips to the shops (for your neighbours too). (with permission)

Whether through necessity or choice, we foresee a growing number of people beginning to participate in informal, non-monetary, and local economies, including the sharing economy. Just as radical middle-class downshifters will help stifle economic growth by withdrawing their discretionary spending, those who are less affluent could begin to lay alternative economic foundations, and provide a post-capitalist social safety net.

Working together

We contend that these two social groups – the disillusioned middle class and the exploited working class – can conceivably form a cohesive movement with similar goals. The capitalist system isn’t working for many people, even those who are “winning” the rat race. Furthermore, historic growth trajectories seem to be coming to an end, due to both financial and ecological constraints.

Read more:
Life in a ‘degrowth’ economy, and why you might actually enjoy it

Already, a diverse range of movements are working towards a new urbanity. These include local farmers’ markets and community and home gardens, urban agriculture projects, freecycling groups, sharing communities, and repair cafes. It also includes the growing pool of climate activists, divestment organisers, permaculture groups, transitions towns, and progressive unions.

There is the small but vocal “save our suburbs” network, in which we see the seeds of something more progressive. And it includes the energy frugal households quietly moving towards solar, batteries and increased energy self-suffiency. One by one, these households are undermining the fossil fuel industry and subtly disrupting the status quo.

As financial and ecological crises deepen in coming years, the social consciousness needed to develop new systems of production and cultures of consumption will become compelling. Together these social groups (and others not yet imagined) could form an urban social movement that withdraws support for the existing system and begins building new economies on our suburban streets.The Conversation

Samuel Alexander, Research fellow, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne and Brendan Gleeson, Director, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Republished pieces

Degrowth is the radical post-Brexit future the UK needs

Picture of forest
Does a greener future lie ahead?
Joe Herbert, Author provided

Joe Herbert, Newcastle University

As the Brexit negotiations wrap up and Theresa May’s deal is lambasted by Remainers and Leavers alike, it’s still far from clear what the future holds for the United Kingdom. On March 29 2019, it is due to leave the European Union.

Brexit is the first time a member state has voted to withdraw from the EU and it has caused a geopolitical earthquake, unleashing uncertainty in the UK and abroad. We don’t know what the impact on the UK will be when (and if) it actually leaves the EU. If it does so on poor terms, or via the still possible “no deal” eventuality, there are a wealth of devastating projections which may materialise.

The only thing that we can be sure of is that Brexit represents a moment of huge social, political and economic rupture. However, history tells us that such moments are also moments of opportunity for radical departure from the status quo.

Rupture as opportunity

Let’s be frank, Brexit is not a progressive endeavour. It threatens social and economic turmoil in which the most vulnerable in society will – as always – be the hardest hit. Leaving the EU could jeopardise benefits to UK citizens in the form of workers’ rights, environmental protections and food standards. The political climate outside of the EU also offers an increasingly undesirable community of potential allies and traders, dominated by the rise of the far-right in North and South America.

On the other hand, uncritical adoration of the EU overlooks the reality of what the Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis has described as “a regressive set of vile institutions”. It cannot be denied: the EU is a large and brutal force for neoliberalism.

From this critical stance on the EU, I still voted Remain in the referendum. I believed then – and still believe now – that regressive forces will profit from the UK’s exit and that the vulnerable will suffer. So, as we approach the March deadline, if the UK does indeed crash out of the EU, the left needs to be prepared with visions of alternative futures, and be ready to fight for them.

The growth question

The realities of a post-Brexit UK appear bleak, certainly in the short term. But separation opens the door for alternatives to the dominance of free-market fundamentalism. We could move from a society centred around financialised capital and the City of London, to one that promotes social and environmental justice in the UK and internationally.

Reports claim that Brexit will mean lower levels of economic growth for the UK. For politicians this is a horrifying prospect. But falling growth need not be feared, if it is integrated within a broader transformation of society.

The degrowth movement emerging amongst academics and activists argues that the logic of infinite growth is driving ecosystem collapse and climate breakdown. As stated in the latest IPCC report, we now have only 12 years to radically restructure society to cap global temperature at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. If we fail, we will face catastrophic climate impacts.

Degrowth as a radical alternative

Degrowth argues that the wealthy and heavily polluting countries of the global north – such as the UK – must undergo a phase of managed and socially equitable economic contraction. This is necessary to downscale rich economies to within safe ecological limits.

The need for endless economic growth pushes us to produce more, consume more and make more profit. It has left our society overworked, over-stressed and plagued by extreme levels of inequality.

These dire social conditions have been blamed for the Brexit vote itself and unlimited growth also fuels climate breakdown, with the UK as a big contributor to global carbon emissions.

Simply, our slavish devotion to growth is making us miserable and destroying the planet. Degrowth could liberate us by arguing that more growth is not the solution, but the problem. We can and must live better with less, shared more fairly.

From growth to wellbeing

Degrowth would rid our society of pointless production and consumption. We could say goodbye to “bullshit jobs” – the pointless make-work that keeps workers stressed without any obvious value to society beyond enriching corporate elites. Production and consumption could be organised in service of social and environmental well-being rather than profit.

This degrowth transition could be pursued through ideas which confront the relentless treadmill of work, such as a four-day week. Poverty and inequality could be tackled by implementing a universal basic income and a maximum income. A fundamental decentralisation of the UK’s political and economic landscape could end London’s dominance by distributing more democratic autonomy to the regions.

Degrowth thus acknowledges that liberating society from the growth imperative is not only an ecological necessity, but also loosens the grip of the capitalist wage-labour market. This frees people to dedicate more of their lives to the things that really matter to them.

Is degrowth a likely future for the UK after Brexit? Certainly not in the short term. But, as Brexit and climate breakdown destabilise our politics, nothing much is certain. Only that we must be prepared with visions of a better future, and be ready to fight for them.The Conversation

Joe Herbert, PhD Researcher in Human Geography, Newcastle University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Summary of responses to the degrowthUK survey

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to the survey. The thoughts that we gathered here will be extremely helpful as a base from which to decide about the future directions of our emerging network! I wanted to take a moment to summarise some of the main responses to the survey, so that we can continue to collectively decide on next steps. So here we go…

  •  31 people responded to the survey. We had a fantastic geographical spread of respondents. Manchester was home to the most, with 5 respondents.
  • Most respondents work in academia at this point, though not all. PhD students were the most common, which reflects nicely the emerging interest in degrowth amongst a generation of young researchers 
  • Almost all respondents indicated their desire for face-to-face degrowthUK events, in addition to online networking and disseminating of information. This suggests we should make organising some face to face events one of our next priorities as a network
  • The overwhelming majority were happy with the email list as a method of communication. This now has 70 subscribers, which is great. Most people are already following the twitter account (@degrowthUK) and we now have a basic website installed ( Tech-savvy volunteers who can jazz up the website a bit are encouraged to step forward! There wasn’t a huge or clear appetite for any further channels of communication on top of these.
  • Thank you to about a third of you who expressed interest in hosting a face-to-face event. We will get in touch with those specific people as we look to move these plans forward. Hopefully regions are organising their own more localised activities, but it seems there is appetite for a larger national get-together. The US degrowth network has just had their first gathering, and it would be nice if we could plan something similar!

If anyone wants to follow any of this up, or has further ideas for organising a get-together, feel free to get in touch.

Convivial regards,