Degrowth traces its origins back to late 1960s with a social, feminist and ecological critique of growth. It has now developed into a social movement and transdisciplinary research paradigm that advocates for a socio-economic and socio-cultural transformation to guarantee human flourishing for all within ecological limits. The word expresses an aspiration which cannot be pinned down to a simple sentence because it is both a missile word, social movement, emerging political-economic theory and end goal society that grounds itself in ideas from political ecology, ecological economics, feminist political ecology, political economy and environmental justice.
Put broadly, degrowth advocates for a democratically-led and equitable downscaling of production and consumption that increases human wellbeing and enhances ecological conditions at the local and global level, in the short and long term (Schneider et al. 2010; D’Alisa et al. 2014).
The goals of which are to reduce the environmental impacts of human activities (restructure), redistribute income and wealth within and between countries (reconceptualise) and promote a self- and collective transformation from a materialistic to convivial society centred around autonomy, sufficiency and care (re-evaluate) (Latouche 2009; Cosme et al. 2017; Weiss Cattaneo 2017).
Degrowth transformations can be achieved primarily through three means: oppositional activism – direct action from civil society, radical reformism – actions within existing institutions, and co-creating alternatives – creating new institutions (Parrique 2019). On a personal level, people can embody ‘living degrowth’ in the following ways; (1) rethinking society, (2) acting political, (3) creating alternatives, (4) fostering connections, and (5) unveiling the self (Brossmann & Islar 2019). However, it must be noted that practising degrowth is very context-dependent and the actions taken in one location may differ from another. Nonetheless, the overall values of autonomy, sufficiency, care, solidarity, diversity, peace and justice remain constant.