The relentless pursuit of economic growth is the defining characteristic of contemporary societies. Yet it benefits few and demands monstrous social and ecological sacrifice. Is there a viable alternative? How can we halt the endless quest to grow global production and consumption and instead secure socio-ecological conditions that support lives worth living for all?
In this compelling book, leading experts Giorgos Kallis, Susan Paulson, Giacomo D'Alisa and Federico Demaria make the case for degrowth – living well with less, by living differently, prioritizing wellbeing, equity and sustainability. Drawing on emerging initiatives and enduring traditions around the world, they advance a radical degrowth vision and outline policies to shape work and care, income and investment that avoid exploitative and unsustainable practices. Degrowth, they argue, can be achieved through transformative strategies that allow societies to slow down by design, not disaster.
Essential reading for all concerned citizens, policy-makers, and students, The Case for Degrowth will be an important contribution to one of the thorniest and most pressing debates of our era.
1. A case for degrowth
2. Sacrifices of growth
3. Making changes on the ground
4. Path-breaking reforms
5. Strategies for mobilization
Frequently asked questions
Giorgos Kallis is ICREA Professor at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Autonomous University of Barcelona. Susan Paulson is Professor at the Center for Latin American Studies, University of Florida. Giacomo D’Alisa is a FCT post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra. Federico Demaria is Serra Hunter lecturer in ecological economics and political ecology, University of Barcelona.
"COVID-19 is the symptom; the profit-driven destruction of natural and social habitants is the disease. There's only one cure consistent with global social justice. Read this eloquent and urgent book and find out what it is."
– Mike Davis, University of California and author of Ecology of Fear and Planet of Slums
"This is a major contribution to the current debate on growth and degrowth. The authors lay bare the innards of each and show us the importance of degrowth. Wellbeing, equity, and sustainability are key vectors organizing this text. These should be understood in the fullness of their capacities to move us out of our current modernity – a decaying order that is today still dominant. But history has shown us across the centuries that no system of power can last for ever, and nor will our current system. Indeed, it is busy destroying itself."
– Saskia Sassen, Columbia University and author of Expulsions
"Degrowth is one of the most important ideas of the 21st century. Here it is in compact form. Clear, timely, urgent. Don't miss this book."
– Jason Hickel, London School of Economics and author of The Divide and Less is More
"Is there life after economic growth? Kallis and his co-authors have taken up the baton from the early proponents of degrowth and created a vibrant, accessible discourse for the 21st Century. The Case for Degrowth provides the why, the where and the how of a better economy and a richer society. Its vision is needed now more than ever."
– Tim Jackson, Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity and author of Prosperity without Growth
"The COVID pandemic is laying bare dysfunctions of the growth model and the urgency of a pathway to sanity, climate protection, and security for all. This wonderful and accessible introduction by leading degrowth scholars is a vital resource for anyone interested in viable alternatives, rooted in cooperative economic relations and respect for planetary limits."
– Juliet Schor, author of After the Gig: How the Sharing Economy Got Hijacked and How to Win It Back
"A superb account of why capitalist economies fail life on Earth, even as peoples initiatives in community sharing already revive joy and hope for our futures. This small book teaches economics like no other. It will reply to your doubts about change. It should be on every public library shelf and every syllabus; give copies to your friends."
– Ariel Salleh, activist and editor of Eco-Sufficiency and Global Justice: Women Write Political Ecology
"The case for degrowth as argued in this book is so well rounded and compelling that it is difficult to imagine how progressive politicians could avoid integrating the many policies advocated here into their party manifestos [...] unless of course they cannot escape the growth mentality that has suffocated progressive policies for decades. But even in this case, the book offers ways of changing that mentality through commoning and collective action."
– Massimo De Angelis, University of East London, editor of The Commoner, and author of Omnia Sunt Communia
"Many before have made the point that there are limits to growth, but few have pondered so convincingly on how to break from our addiction to growth."
– Stefania Barca, University of Coimbra, co-editor of Towards a Political Economy of Degrowth
"Degrowth is one of the most exciting approaches to emerge from the belly of the industrialised and colonising world, fundamentally challenging its unsustainable and inequitable path of 'development'. But approaches and concepts also need praxis, else they remain in rarified ivory towers. Perhaps for the first time, here, degrowth proponents transform visions and recommendations into a coherent set of actions, from our individual choices to macro-economics and politics. Essential reading for anyone interested in transforming society to be crisis-resilient and crisis-avoiding!"
– Ashish Kothari, activist and co-editor of Pluriverse: A Post-Development Dictionary
"The degrowth movement now has its Manifesto. A rigorous, practical analysis that will guide grassroots and institutional politics so they can realize a transformation akin to degrowth and turn the current global crisis into a new opportunity and pathway towards more sustainable and carrying societies."
– Isabelle Anguelovski, Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability (BCNUEJ) and author of Neighborhood as Refuge
"By this book, degrowth finally becomes adult. No longer a simple game of hide-and-seek with the growth regime. No longer a vague illusion postponed until the advent of a catastrophe that never comes. No longer a generous experimentation among circles of virtuosos nor an extreme form of resilience by the excluded from the banquet of the consumer society, but a mature and innovative political project, facing the hegemony challenge in the open field of the social arena. The authors are the best fruits of the degrowth movement: activists at the forefront and at the same time leading scholars."
– Onofrio Romano, University of Bari and author of Towards a Society of Degrowth