The roots of the degrowth movement can be traced back centuries, but the term itself gained prominence in the 1970s, first mentioned by André Gorz. Over the past two decades, degrowth has evolved into a social movement that has expanded into academia, informing numerous books and academic papers since 2007.
Degrowth can be understood as a holistic term that draws from a broader heritage of critical thought while providing a refreshing framework for addressing the urgent socio-environmental challenges we face. It serves as an interpretive framework for a new social movement that brings together critical ideas and political action. Degrowth seeks to re-politicize discussions about socio-environmental futures and is an example of an activist-led research agenda that increasingly shapes knowledge production across a range of academic disciplines.
Different institutions and disciplines interpret degrowth in various ways. Ecological economics, for example, combines the goal of reducing energy, material, and waste flows with an emphasis on increasing human well-being. Others focus on degrowth as a means to challenge dominant economic knowledge production models. These approaches view degrowth as a tool for critically examining economics itself, particularly the growth imperative that underlies and reinforces the current economic paradigm.
While there are multiple definitions of degrowth, they share a common goal of reducing production and consumption, significantly shrinking the ecological footprint, and prioritizing democratic planning with social justice and concern for human and environmental well-being. Degrowth is guided by principles such as promoting ecological and social justice, strengthening self-sufficiency, and redesigning institutions and infrastructure.
Degrowth is perceived as a transitional stage towards achieving an ecologically and socially sustainable post-growth economy. This vision often entails a stationary economy in harmony with nature, built on democratic principles, where access to wealth and resources are shared equitably.
In recent years, several reviews have been published, compiling and organizing existing work on degrowth while showcasing different currents and debates within the movement. These reviews delve into controversial topics such as the role of technology, knowledge production, and the state. The conference seeks to deepen understanding and foster creativity around the key questions raised by the degrowth community. It provides a space for formulating strategies to mobilize this expanding field of knowledge production, driving societal transformation and addressing the accelerating eco-social crises