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Scientific paper


The possibilities of sufficiency

Åsa Callmer

Entry type:
Scientific paper

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Degrowth Conference Budapest 2016


Sufficiency as a mind-set - as in “good enough” rather than voluntary simplicity - is indeed a challenging thought in a society of consumption-driven individuals taught to equate materialistic accomplishments with status as well as with identity. However, to upgrade the value of sufficiency in the affluent society brings about potential for a reorientation towards sustainability. This paper aims to shine light on the possibilities of an imaginary and a narrative based on sufficiency as a guiding concept. Departing from Martinez-Alier’s thoughts on removing the generalized market system from our collective imagination of principles of societal organization, the paper discusses how new collective imaginations can instead be created and practiced. Examples that are used to illustrate sufficiency-based practices are voluntary Buy Nothing Years, Zero Waste initiatives, and services that help people de-clutter their homes.

The narrative around sufficiency presented here is grounded in environmental justice and an imaginary of an environmentally sound, solidarity-based economy. I argue that using sufficiency as a point of departure for a new narrative for the 22nd century can possibly open up the ideas of the degrowth movement for a wider audience. The concept of sufficiency can serve as a container both for outspoken consumption critique and for fatigue of “having too much stuff”, thus attracting people not usually pro degrowth. The potential for challenging the mainstream collective imaginaries grows when more people are addressed. In this way, a broader imaginary of living sufficiently can help dematerialize our needs and desires.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „The possibilities of sufficiency“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

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