Work sharing, work time reduction, basic income and job guarantee are often referred ideas in degrowth-literature as alternatives to present models of work and income. Also various grassroots innovations, such as local organic food networks or community currencies are examples in which people are already developing production and consumption structures based on community empowerment and wellbeing rather than full-time employment. So far these alternatives have remained distant from the research fields of social policy and social work in European welfare states. Instead of learning from the alternatives, high levels of unemployment caused by economic decline are tried to be tackled with economic growth and activation policies that are hardly in line with basic rights and personal freedoms. These measures are also ecologically unsustainable since they are relying on increases in production and consumption.
In our presentation we discuss the degrowth alternatives of work and income in the context of European welfare states. We see them as empowering alternatives compared to present activation measures especially for young unemployed people living in the margins of traditional labour market. Based on the research on sustainability transition and degrowth, we ask what kind of alternatives of work and income are in line with the transition and what needs to be reformed in the social security systems in order to strengthen the transition. The paper is based on a 4-year (2015–2019) research project in which the overall research task is to deepen the knowledge on the contribution of social work and systems of income security to transitions towards sustainability.
This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Learning from degrowth ideas of work and income“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.