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Scientific paper


Understanding the good life beyond growth: insights from Degrowth, Human Development and Buen Vivir

Adrián Beling, Julien Vanhulst

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Scientific paper

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Degrowth Conference Budapest 2016


Since the early 70's three approaches to development thinking have emerged to criticize and try to overcome the dominant perspectives of "economic development" and "economic growth". These include the ideas of Degrowth, Human Development and Buen Vivir. Proponents of Degrowth aim to create a post-growth society based on material sufficiency, individual and collective well-being and ecological sustainability. Human Development has emphasized the multidimensionality of human well-being and the limits of prevailing indicators of development, focusing instead on the real freedoms that people enjoy to achieve a worthy human life. Buen Vivir, stemming from the cosmovisions of Andean indigenous people, brought alternative views on critical aspects of social life and on the relation between human societies and nature (including rights for Nature).

These perspectives have emerged somewhat independently from each other, yet they advance the common goal of deconstructing the idea of development equated with economic growth. Surprisingly, the literature has hardly made any reference to the potential for comparison, mutual engagement, and cross-fertilization. This article seeks to contribute to filling this gap. Through an exploratory literature review, we identify potential common ground, complementarities and differences among these approaches, both in terms of the innovations they introduce in socio-political and cultural imaginaries, and the possible synergies amongst them. Here we open up new avenues of research to find new ways of conceiving a good life beyond growth, contributing to fundamentally transforming modern societies towards sustainable and worthy futures.

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Understanding the good life beyond growth: insights from Degrowth, Human Development and Buen Vivir “ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

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