Tim Parrique has been keeping a log of debates on degrowth.
Click here to go to this helpful collection.
Networking site for the UK degrowth community
Tim Parrique has been keeping a log of debates on degrowth.
Click here to go to this helpful collection.
5th – 8th JULY 2021
updated 20 August, 2021
The International Online Joint Conference of the international degrowth research networks, the International Society for Ecological Economics and the European Society for Ecological Economics, hosted by University of Manchester took place between 5-8 July, 2021. Despite the global pandemic meaning that it had to be an online event, it was a great success with four days of up to 13 parallel sessions of symposia, workshops and free papers. There were also some excellent plenary sessions.
The legacy website. has the programme, book of abstracts and link to the plenary videos. Further videos may be made available later.
The Post Growth Challenge
To view the results of the challenge, CLICK HERE – takes you to (Steady State Manchester’s website).
The original call for submissions follows
Calling writers, artists, designers and video makers.
Can you make a Post Growth Policy Package?
A cooperative challenge to find a better way to present the post-growth alternative.
Over the last two years, various Green New Deals have become very popular. This demonstrates that a set of policy ideas can be effectively communicated by combining them into one positive package.
In contrast, the ideas and proposals of the degrowth, post-growth and steady state economy movements can appear complex, vague, negative and unattractive. Can we overcome that disadvantage by trying to do what the Green Dealers have done and present a Post-Growth Deal? There’s one way to find out – let’s try it!
We invite you to present your Post Growth Policy package.
It needs to be presented in straightforward, concise, easy to understand, and attractive terms, without denying the real difficulties involved in reducing the material and energy throughput of our economies.
This could be done as,
Anyone who is interested in creating an economy that can sustainably support life on Earth.
We anticipate two classes of entry.
A) Those focussing on a post-growth future in the specific context of Greater Manchester.
B) Those with proposals for national or inter-state (European Union, ALBA, Mercosur, UN, etc. etc.) implementation.
Send us your entries by midnight, GMT, Wednesday 31 March, 2021 – extended deadline.
How and where?
Entries should be sent to steadystatemanchester[AT]gmail.com
Articles, briefings, stories, or infographics should be sent in the form of an email attachment. They can be wordprocessor documents ( .odt, .doc, .docx), pdf files, or image files (.jpg, .png, ..gif, .svg). Please keep attachments to less than 2 megabytes in size. For anything larger, compress it or send as a file link (e.g. using dropbox, box, spideroak, google).
Videos should be uploaded to a video hosting platform and a link sent to the above email address.
We will acknowledge entries.
“Everybody has won and all must have prizes.”
All participants will receive a printed copy of our pamphlet, “The Viable Economy … and Society”. The entry that we like best in each class will be presented with a tee-shirt with the Steady State Manchester logo1. Wear it at events, or wear it in bed: we don’t mind!
Most important, though will be that we will publicise the best entries, through our various local and international networks.
In addition we might invite the creator of our favourite Greater Manchester entry to jointly nominate a local post-growth organisation for a small grant.
All entries will be made under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This allows anyone to share the work in its original form, so long as they give proper attribution to the creator.
1 So long as we have your size available.
WEBINAR – Envisioning a sustainable future in Northampton
Northampton University – Faculty of Business and Law
Envisioning a sustainable future in Northampton: promoting a green post-pandemic recovery
Date: 23-11-2020 – from 4pm to 6pm
Collaborate link: https://eu.bbcollab.com/guest/d5c43a58fe444b28afcd856467af75cf
If you want to attend this event please click here to send an email to Elodie René before November 21st.
This webinar will gather UK-based researchers and practitioners involved in environmental and social
Discussions will be structured around the following key questions:
1) What are the environmental origins of pandemics such as COVID-19?
2) Why our collective answer to this pandemic should integrate environmental parameters?
3) Can we afford (socially and ecologically) a business as usual recovery scenario?
4) To which extent a local ecological – degrowth transition can open new perspective to recover
from the Covid crisis?
Webinar Moderators: Elodie René
1. Overview of the impacts of current health crisis on the most deprived communities in Northampton
Chief executive at Northampton Hope Center and Chairperson at Northampton social
2. Ecological transition in Northampton a grassroots perspective: a short history of Transition Town Northampton
Founder of Transition Town Northampton part of the global Transition network.
3. Why creating the conditions for a flourishing of the imagination is vital to the climate emergency?
Rob Hopkins is cofounder of Transition Town Totnes and Transition Network, and the author
of The Transition Handbook, The Transition Companion, The Power of Just Doing Stuff, 21
Stories of Transition and most recently, From What Is to What If: unleashing the power of
imagination to create the future we want. He presents the podcast series ‘From What If to
What Next‘ which invites listeners to send in their “what if” questions and then explores how
to make them a reality. In 2012, he was voted one of the Independent’s top 100
environmentalists and was on Nesta and the Observer’s list of Britain’s 50 New Radicals.
Hopkins has also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought and A Good Read, in the French film
phenomenon Demain and its sequel Apres Demain, and has spoken at TEDGlobal and three
An Ashoka Fellow, Hopkins also holds a doctorate degree from the University of Plymouth and
has received two honorary doctorates from the University of the West of England and the
University of Namur. He is a keen gardener, a founder of New Lion Brewery in Totnes, and a
director of Totnes Community Development Society, the group behind Atmos Totnes, an
ambitious, community-led development project.
4. Potential and limits of circular economy within the entertainment industry: an insider perspective
Unusual Rigging, Managing Director
Tom was appointed as managing director at Unusual Rigging in April 2020. In his role as
sustainability coordinator, Tom established the company’s carbon reduction strategy in 2013
and is exploring the company’s potential, as an organization, to pioneer a ‘circular economic’
business model within the industry. Tom has an MBA in Innovation and the Circular Economy
and is co-project managing the implementation of a custom asset tracking software system
which will also improve the efficiency of the company’s workflow.
5. Can we afford a business as usual recovery scenario? Envisioning a Degrowth case against the business case.
Fabian Maier and Iana Nesterova,
Fabian is a PhD researcher at Nottingham University in the field of critical organisation
studies and studies cooperatives, grassroots and community-based organisations in relation
to degrowth. Fabian is interested in discourses around prefiguration, post-work, and
solidarity economies. He is a member of the ‘Degrowth Organisation and Economy Research
Group’ and active in a worker co-operative in the East Midlands.
Iana Nesterova, PhD is a researcher based in the UK. Her PhD focused on small business transition towards degrowth. Iana’s research interests include the philosophy underpinning sustainable change
and what sustainable change means and entails. She currently teaches health economics
from a heterodox economics perspective. She is a member of SUCH (Sustainable Change)
research network and the ‘Degrowth Organisation and Economy Research Group’.
Economy and livelihoods after Covid-19
A global on-line symposium of the International Degrowth Network and the International Society for Ecological Economics.
September 1 to September 4th, 2020, University of Manchester.
The sessions will be in the afternoons BST.
Join us for this symposium over four days. We’ll be considering the implications of the global Covid-19 pandemic for economy and livelihoods. The Covid-19 pandemic and responses to it have had deeply unequal impacts on lives, livelihoods and well-being across race, gender and class. At the same time it has opened up the space for new possibilities for building alternative livelihoods and economies that can take us beyond a capitalist economy that requires ever expanding growth. Will we go back to business as usual with all the ecological, social and economic risks that will bring or take the path towards a new kind of economy that provides for human needs of all while restoring and protecting the natural world that we all depend on?
Programme and registration details now at this Eventbrite Link
Here it is again: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/economy-and-livelihoods-after-covid-19-tickets-116083505891
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.
The Coronavirus pandemic has already taken countless lives and it is uncertain how it will develop in the future. While people on the front lines of healthcare and basic social provisioning are fighting against the spread of the virus, caring for the sick and keeping essential operations running, a large part of the economy has come to a standstill. This situation is numbing and painful for many, creating fear and anxiety about those we love and the communities we are part of, but it is also a moment to collectively bring new ideas forward.
The crisis triggered by the Coronavirus has already exposed many weaknesses of our growth-obsessed capitalist economy – insecurity for many, healthcare systems crippled by years of austerity and the undervaluation of some of the most essential professions. This system, rooted in exploitation of people and nature, which is severely prone to crises, was nevertheless considered normal. Although the world economy produces more than ever before, it fails to take care of humans and the planet, instead the wealth is hoarded and the planet is ravaged. Millions of children die every year from preventable causes, 820 million people are undernourished, biodiversity and ecosystems are being degraded and greenhouse gases continue to soar, leading to violent anthropogenic climate change: sea level rise, devastating storms, droughts and fires that devour entire regions.
For decades, the dominant strategies against these ills were to leave economic distribution largely to market forces and to lessen ecological degradation through decoupling and green growth. This has not worked. We now have an opportunity to build on the experiences of the Corona crisis: from new forms of cooperation and solidarity that are flourishing, to the widespread appreciation of basic societal services like health and care work, food provisioning and waste removal. The pandemic has also led to government actions unprecedented in modern peacetime, demonstrating what is possible when there is a will to act: the unquestioned reshuffling of budgets, mobilization and redistribution of money, rapid expansion of social security systems and housing for the homeless.
At the same time, we need to be aware of the problematic authoritarian tendencies on the rise like mass surveillance and invasive technologies, border closures, restrictions on the right of assembly, and the exploitation of the crisis by disaster capitalism. We must firmly resist such dynamics, but not stop there. To start a transition towards a radically different kind of society, rather than desperately trying to get the destructive growth machine running again, we suggest to build on past lessons and the abundance of social and solidarity initiatives that have sprouted around the world these past months. Unlike after the 2008 financial crisis, we should save people and the planet rather than bail out the corporations, and emerge from this crisis with measures of sufficiency instead of austerity.
We, the signatories of this letter, therefore offer five principles for the recovery of our economy and the basis of creating a just society. To develop new roots for an economy that works for all, we need to:
1) Put life at the centre of our economic systems.
Instead of economic growth and wasteful production, we must put life and well-being at the centre of our efforts. While some sectors of the economy, like fossil fuel production, military and advertising, have to be phased out as fast as possible, we need to foster others, like healthcare, education, renewable energy and ecological agriculture.
2) Radically reevaluate how much and what work is necessary for a good life for all.
We need to put more emphasis on care work and adequately value the professions that have proven essential during the crisis. Workers from destructive industries need access to training for new types of work that is regenerative and cleaner, ensuring a just transition. Overall, we have to reduce working time and introduce schemes for work-sharing.
3) Organize society around the provision of essential goods and services.
While we need to reduce wasteful consumption and travel, basic human needs, such as the right to food, housing and education have to be secured for everyone through universal basic services or universal basic income schemes. Further, a minimum and maximum income have to be democratically defined and introduced.
4) Democratize society.
This means enabling all people to participate in the decisions that affect their lives. In particular, it means more participation for marginalized groups of society as well as including feminist principles into politics and the economic system. The power of global corporations and the financial sector has to be drastically reduced through democratic ownership and oversight. The sectors related to basic needs like energy, food, housing, health and education need to be decommodified and definancialised. Economic activity based on cooperation, for example worker cooperatives, has to be fostered.
5) Base political and economic systems on the principle of solidarity.
Redistribution and justice – transnational, intersectional and intergenerational – must be the basis for reconciliation between current and future generations, social groups within countries as well as between countries of the Global South and Global North. The Global North in particular must end current forms of exploitation and make reparations for past ones. Climate justice must be the principle guiding a rapid social-ecological transformation.
As long as we have an economic system that is dependent on growth, a recession will be devastating. What the world needs instead is Degrowth – a planned yet adaptive, sustainable, and equitable downscaling of the economy, leading to a future where we can live better with less. The current crisis has been brutal for many, hitting the most vulnerable hardest, but it also gives us the opportunity to reflect and rethink. It can make us realize what is truly important and has demonstrated countless potentials to build upon. Degrowth, as a movement and a concept, has been reflecting on these issues for more than a decade and offers a consistent framework for rethinking society based on other values, such as sustainability, solidarity, equity, conviviality, direct democracy and enjoyment of life.
Join us in these debates and share your ideas at Degrowth Vienna 2020 and the Global Degrowth Day – to construct an intentional and emancipatory exit from our growth addictions together!
The open letter working group: Nathan Barlow, Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Manuel Grebenjak, Vincent Liegey, François Schneider, Tone Smith, Sam Bliss, Constanza Hepp, Max Hollweg, Christian Kerschner, Andro Rilović, Pierre Smith Khanna, Joëlle Saey-Volckrick
This letter is the result of a collaborative process within the degrowth international network. It has been signed by more than 1,100 experts and over 70 organizations from more than 60 countries.
See all signatories here
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: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnmLreZXaPwgAdFhWmJbKBA
DegrowthTalks twitter: @DegrowthTalks
UK Degrowth Summer School website: https://www.ukdegrowthsummerschool.org/
We are delighted to republish this piece, collaboratively written by roughly 40 scholars and activists affiliated with the Feminisms and Degrowth Alliance (FaDA), a network that aims at making feminist reasoning an integral part of degrowth. More information about FADA in the endnote.
The crisis we face as a global community must be understood not only as a public health crisis, or as an economic crisis of the capitalist mode of production, but also, fundamentally, as a crisis of the reproduction of life. In this sense, it is a crisis of care: the work of caring for humans, non-humans, and the shared biosphere.
The pandemic is a historical rupture. It’s also an opening for reworlding––as one recent meme says, “There is no going back to normal because “normal” was the problem.” As a group of activists and scholars from the Feminisms and Degrowth Alliance (FaDA)1, we take this opportunity to reflect on how we can, from our diverse positions, face this moment, organize, and collectively imagine radical alternative modes of living: those with more time for community, relationship building, and care for each other as well as the non-human world.
This collaborative reflection is motivated by the following concerns: First we would like to stress that this crisis is NOT our degrowth. Secondly, we want to clarify what an intentional (feminist) degrowth project means, and why it is more necessary now than ever. Thirdly, we want to bring attention to dimensions of care and reproductive work that have been so centrally relied upon, yet so invisible and neglected, in this pandemic. Finally, we want to offer proposals for how this crisis can help us move towards care-full economies in the long term.
GDP is plummeting, resource use exploitation and pollution are declining, CO2 emissions have fallen, and in some places non-human life is able to reinhabit spaces made through diminished human activity. At a first glance, these items might read like a degrowthers’ or environmentalists’ wishlist, and yet we want to underline that the slowdown in the global economy provoked by the pandemic is NOT to be confused with feminist degrowth. On the contrary, some responses by dominant actors present worrisome and dangerous paths within surveillance, authoritarianism, and ecofascism. As the slogan proclaimed in the context of the last financial crisis: “your austerity is not our degrowth.”
Economic recessions or depressions are crises, they are not equitable to care-full social transformations, and they serve nothing to disentangle economic models from biophysical impossibilities of indefinite capitalist growth. Feminist degrowth embodies the vision of a radical transformation towards a just, sustainable, and convivial society brought about by voluntary change. Degrowth is an umbrella term for visions of doing economies otherwise, in ways which do not have growth and accumulation as their overriding aim but instead focus on care, well-being, conviviality, solidarity, provisioning economies, commons and commoning, and a concern for equality, human flourishing, and meeting basic needs as defined in context. It is rooted in collective, and democratic decision making.
Responses to the crisis in some quarters have included a much-needed re-evaluation of public collective goods and infrastructures, and an acknowledgment of government’s capacity and responsibility to provide for their citizens2, moves on which we want to build. However, we must be wary and vigilant against other visions seeking to capitalize on this moment that may mobilize inequality, authoritarianism, austerity, and repression. This includes Silicon Valley fantasies of provisioning to those who can afford it via Amazon drones, the fortification of global hyper-surveillance states, and a further deregulation of wage work which is already being implemented in many places. Many who are dropped from formal, more stable employment in the context of this crisis will not recover it afterwards, as countries pass special legislation allowing precarious contracts and short-time work in order to “save” businesses. Meanwhile, interventions to flatten the curve of contagion rely on repression including militarization of countries such as Ecuador, India, and Kenya, to enforce physical distancing in absence of a functional public health system, opening the way for recurrent human rights violations.
Our intervention therefore asks: how can we use this moment to democratically rebuild social organization of labor and care work? To reconstruct the realm of public welfare that has been so depleted by decades of neoliberalism, austerity, structural adjustment, and the privatization of education and healthcare? How can this opening lead our economies towards emancipation from the grips of the growth paradigm founded in heteropatriarchal capitalist principles? A feminist degrowth project calls for an end to the subalternization of reproduction in service to the realm of production.
We suggest here some priorities behind an intentional degrowth informed by a democratic and feminist approach that empowers all facets of society to engage, mobilize, and transform:
As all but essential services are locked down, this crisis invites us to (re)consider the nature of the essential and the superfluous. As “productive” enterprises are shuttered, the material bases that sustain and regenerate life and that which we cannot live without are starkly emphasized. Some have termed those material bases the provisioning economy, one which provides what people actually need for their well-being and reproduction. This refocusing on basic material needs has sparked appreciation for the farmers who grow our food, to the supermarket workers who stack the shelves.
This capacity to provide is further based on the maintenance, recycling, repair, and restoration of environmental, infrastructural and social resources. These undergird social and environmental reproduction and are sometimes termed the reproductive economy––the work done to reproduce ourselves. It includes unpaid work in the home, as well the protection, regeneration and defense of the ecological capacities to reproduce life, often led by peasants, activists and Indigenous peoples who engage in care-full work and struggles to feed the soil, to keep water sources free from contamination and air unpolluted. Their reproductive and care labor has been considered free of charge and available for exploitation, while the including air, water, and soil fertility have been long considered a “free gift” to capitalism.
Focusing on provisioning and the reproductive economy brings economics back to its core. The word economics comes from the Greek oikonomia, which means administration of the household. A feminist degrowth calls for restructuring our economy to shift the emphasis from the production of things to feed the growth imperative and endless desires, and towards the reproduction and provisioning of life and meeting needs. It is crucial to foster this provisioning set-up of economic practice––without romanticizing ideas of the ‘local’ or forgetting gendered impacts of any economic transformation.
The sustainability of life should constitute the main goal of social organization. This requires the recognition, regeneration and strengthening of social and ecological reproductive capacities as well as a transformation of markets and modes of exchange as modes of provisioning.
Therefore, we urgently call for a society that not only stays within planetary boundaries, but replenishes and boosts both social and ecological reproductive capacities. One example are food systems based on small peasant agriculture or community supported organic agriculture which both increase local resilience, support the regeneration of the soil and reduce dependence on global supply chains.
“I stay at home because I care for the vulnerable” is a common phrase we hear to promote physical distancing (problematically called social distancing) in this uniquely uncertain time. Unpacking this call for retreat into the domestic sphere as an act of caring brings up multiple questions. Who gets to stay home safely? Who are the vulnerable? And how can we care for others beyond isolation?
Firstly, we should note that the home as refuge is made luxury under existing capitalist social organization. The wealthy are those who have the luxury to shelter in place and maintain their salaries, the disadvantaged less so. In some cases, their work cannot be done from home. Some have to go out to care for others. Others don’t have a home at all. The virus, like pollution, is not democratic. It discriminates across structural inequalities, modulated by forms of oppression and discrimination which cumulate and interlock across gender, race, class, (dis)ability, age, and place, among others. Men are dying in higher numbers due to Covid-19 across all locations. In the US, black communities are more impacted, to give only some examples.
Further, the home is not always a safe space. Measures to restrict movement confine vulnerable people to the same space with their abusers leading to increasing levels of domestic violence against mainly women and children. As employers expect people to do care work and wage work at the same time, either in home offices, in their factories or on their fields, while replacing teachers at home, without due attention, gendered divisions of labor become ever more defined and unequal. This collision of wage work and care work in the home has starkly revealed what feminist scholars have always pointed out: that the household has always been a work-place and that the workplace depends on the household whether or not they are the same place or different places.
Finally, we must ask how we can center care for each other and our communities and social solidarity while maintaining physical distance. How can the conviviality and solidarity integral to degrowth thrive over alienation in these moments? While the state assumes that all households are made up of hetero-patriarchal families, and these will serve as safety nets to absorb the social and economic dislocations of this crisis; the reality is that in many countries, the most common household type is a single person.
This atomization means that forms of practical solidarity and, in fact, social proximity are needed. All over the world, communities are building support and care networks that reach beyond the heteropatriarchal nuclear family, and that support and interconnect members of non-nuclear family households, which make up the majority in every country. We share the enthusiasm of anarchist thinkers for affinity groups as one model for recreating networks of “odd-kin” rather than “god-kin” (in Haraway’s words) for surviving the virus. They suggest that by choosing a group of people you trust and with whom you share similar risk factors and levels of risk tolerance, we can joyously engage in togetherness and care now to preserve our mental and physical health. Such affinity groups can then be connected in broader groups of mutual aid which can engage in broader practical solidarity with the homeless, migrants and refugees, and collective mobilization and support for each other’s struggles and resistance––from rent strikes and labor movements to direct solidarity with care workers, LGBTIQA+ and prisoners´ rights groups.
Creating these networks of care now, beyond our homes, can overcome alienation and provide fertile ground for the necessary collective mobilization to create the futures we want in this historic moment. Further it can help us imagine more collective ways to organize the reproduction of their lives, while relying on commoning, community resources and attending community needs.
In most countries today, the majority of nurses, health aids, and child-care workers are women, while essential positions where men are concentrated include hospital orderlies, garbage collectors, agricultural laborers, doctors, delivery-people, and others. Many of these essential positions are occupied by informalized, undocumented, or migrant workers. As such, these workers face specific difficulties accessing public health and welfare services. If they fall sick they likely will still have to continue to work. So they also face greater risk of being fired or criminalized, as in many cases they will be forced to choose between hunger and health.
We consider degrowth a question of regeneration. While many aspects of our global economy need to degrow, some critical democratic infrastructures, such as infrastructures of care, will have to flourish. Therefore, we need to invest in transformative policies that center around the (re)production of life and the commoning of care. In a feminist degrowth future, the provision of community, domestic, and environmental care beyond the market and the state will be based on radically different logics than profit maximization, competition, or efficiency. We therefore also call for the socialization of all universal health care, the socialization of utilities, the decommodification of food, housing, medicines, education, and other basic services.
This pandemic has raised the pitch of calls for a Universal Basic Income (UBI), by actors ranging from Pope Francis to the Spanish Parliament and US tech venture capitalist Andrew Yang. Defined as a modest sum paid monthly to each resident to secure conditions of life, the UBI has been advocated as part of wide-ranging visions and purposes. Degrowth aligns with those proposals that seek material conditions that can liberate individuals from exploitative employment, support transformation away from environmentally-damaging regimes, and help move beyond battles of jobs vs. environment toward politics that address viable livelihoods as inseparable from a sustainable earth.
As feminist advocates of degrowth, we propose a Universal Care Income that builds on and differs from other proposals by foregrounding the social recognition of unpaid and gendered care work that we all perform to sustain the life and wellbeing of households and communities. Care income seeks to foster equity and solidarity by conceptualizing this income as an investment out of common wealth in capacities for all citizens to take care of ourselves, our kin, and others. For example, we support the call for a care income by the Global Women’s Strike (GWS) and Women of Color GWS, which urges governments to recognize the indispensable role of (re)productive work of life and survival, that we now depend on even more than ever.
In the immediacy of the pandemic, we need to strengthen existing affinity groups, mutual aid networks, and all related efforts. We acknowledge that solidarity comes in many forms. Therefore, we need to support each other’s struggles and resistance––from rent strikes and labor movements, to direct mutual aid solidarity with precarious care workers, unhoused persons, and prisoners. In recognition of the enduring coloniality of North-South relations, a global foreign debt relief for states in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
We need long-term structural solutions to protect those who are vulnerable. We need shelters, sanctuaries and direct support for refugees, undocumented people, and the homeless. We also need the decarceration of immigrant detention centers and prisons, as a proven proliferation ground for community spread magnified by systemic human rights abuses, and as a further claim for a united effort for care-full transformation. Care-based crises can’t be solved by mass incarceration, or the closure of national borders. Degrowth is about planetary thresholds, not borders. The pandemic shows us that life (and its backside, death) does not recognize borders, but it does hinge on limits, for example, as deforestation from agro-industry incurs into forestlands and viruses jump from displaced wildlife to livestock and then to humans.
For now, world leaders are focusing on saving the economy. They need to focus instead on saving the biosphere, by way of swift policies like a solidarity-based Global Green New Deal. We don’t need to choose between jobs or climate protection, nor do we want to return back to ‘normal’ life or business as usual. The pandemic reveals that climate policy will require a much wiser, better-organized approach than ‘normal’. Given the global climate thresholds we have already unleashed, this concerns everybody’s survival although vulnerabilities vary strongly: while the resulting crises are distant and punctual for the privileged, their effects are disproportionate on the most vulnerable.
The pandemic offers an unprecedented, vital insight: the true, total interdependence of all humans on the biosphere. It reveals the interdependent and systemic way in which we must transform economies in the face of the growing climate and environmental emergencies to foreground care for humans and the environment. We need an economics based first and foremost in care, stewardship, cooperation, sharing, and commoning. For industrialized societies, this means vast resource and wealth redistribution, sweeping protection of ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as degrowth, and decarbonization of the economy. This must include social and environmental justice that make up for centuries of coloniality and plunder.
Change needs to be systemic to match the scale of the emergency and the inequalities uncovered and reproduced by the pandemic. This crisis can and should be used as a collective learning point for a transformation towards an alternative feminist degrowth future.
We demand a more care-full world!
1. Launched in September 2016 at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest. We are an inclusive network of academics and activists that aims to foster a dialogue among feminists and degrowth proponents, and to make feminist reasoning an integral part of degrowth activism and scholarship.
2. Ireland’s nationalizing of its health system is one such example.
Author: This piece is collaboratively written by roughly 40 scholars and activists affiliated with the Feminisms and Degrowth Alliance (FaDA), a network that aims at making feminist reasoning an integral part of degrowth. You can subscribe by sending an email to email@example.com. Also, you can visit our FaDA project space on degrowth.info, follow us on twitter, or write to the coordination group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants in conversations leading to this text include among others Amanda Mercedes Gigler, Anna Saave, Barbara Muraca, Corinna Dengler, Dominique Just, Eeva Houtbeckers, Emily Rose McDonald, Evi Curu, Federico Demaria, Giacomo D’Alisa, Janina Dannenberg, Jennifer Wells, Leah Temper, Lina Hansen, Lindsay Barbieri, Manuela Zechner, Maria Consuelo Revilla Nebreda, Marisol Bock, Megan Egler, Miriam Lang, Natalia Avlona, Patricia Susial Martín, Rebecca Rutt, Sophie Sanniti, Sourayan Mookerjea, Stefania Barca, Susan Paulson, Teal George, Wojtek Mejor.