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The vocabulary of degrowth: A roundtable debate

ephemara journal


Keywords: Degrowth, alternatives, critique of growth, sustainability

From the discussion: . . . Giorgos Kallis (GK): My starting point is an essay I’ve recently discovered in the Guardian by Doreen Massey, a notable critical geographer and political ecologist in a broad sense, who sadly passed away two weeks ago. The title of the essay was ‘Neoliberalism has hijacked our vocabulary’. Massey takes issue with keywords like ‘adjustment’ and ‘austerity’ that neoliberalism has introduced into our vocabulary and that have become the common sense of our times, words that people take for granted. And interestingly, she says that the most depoliticised of these words, the one that nobody ever questions, is that of growth.
Our book is precisely about confronting the capitalist vocabulary of growth and offering a new vocabulary in its place – a vocabulary for a new era of secular stagnation, growing inequalities and an impending climate disaster. We are not providing in this book a theory, a blueprint or a manifesto for degrowth. What we are providing are keywords that articulate and develop an alternative vocabulary. An ecologist, radical, critical, green, left – however you might want to call it – vocabulary around this new key term ‘degrowth’.

ephemera Volume 17(1): 189-208

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