The relevance of direct democracy, non-reformist reform, and nowtopias for purposive degrowth transformations
Authors: Panos Petridis, Christos Zografos
Abstract: The aim of this contribution is to clarify and make more explicit the links between nowtopias, direct democracy and non-reformist reform and then consider their relevance for the study of degrowth transitions. We will do so, by first presenting specific cases (examples) of non-reformist reform, explaining how they operate and how they produce radical social transformations. A particular focus of those examples will be on cases in which non-reformist reforms have facilitated the institutionalisation of nowtopias. Secondly, we will focus on direct democracy initiatives developed “at the margin”. We will use examples of cases of popular self-rule initiatives that have surfaced as nowtopias, in order to consider the ways and conditions under which they have emerged as well as how and why they have failed or succeeded. Finally, we will use all this information to reflect on the relevance of direct democracy, non-reformist reform, and nowtopias for purposive degrowth transformations.
Heterotopias and Utopias in Movement
Authors: Aggelos Varvarousis
Abstract: Utopia has been imbued with pejorative connotations that led to the partial abandonment of the concept either as romantic and not-applicable or as dangerous and totalitarian. Recently, many scholars argue that utopianism should be reconsidered for its transformative and emancipatory potential. Heterotopias, a concept introduced by Foucault refers to those existing spaces which are in juxtaposition with the spaces of normality and are also essential for any society because they define the norms depending on the degree of divergence from this. Many have argued in favor of such “alternative” spaces which may contain the “seed” for a more mainstream social transformation by naming them heterotopias, nowtopias or concrete utopias. Here I argue that only the highlighting of such spaces is not enough. A new utopia should be grounded, indeed, in existing social practices but it should also stimulate the imagination play for alternatives. Degrowth maybe can constitute the missing link.
Empowering Degrowth - Addressing Power Issues for the Transformation Towards a Degrowth Society
Authors: Lorenz Stör
Abstract: Every social development includes conflicts, struggles and the giving up of privileges, which essentially result in questions of power. However, the debate on the degrowth/power nexus is essentially underdeveloped in the literature on degrowth, which not only restricts the scope of discussion but has also strategic implications for the establishment of a social movement. This paper discusses existing frameworks of power with regard to their relevance for degrowth and hereby intends to provide a starting point for the debate on conceptualizing power for degrowth. Based on Steven Lukes’ three-dimensional approach to power, John Gaventa’s framework of the power cube is furthermore used for a first attempt of conceptualizing power for degrowth. A workshop with a focus group will not only test the theory, but also support activists and provide empirical insights. The paper therefore interconnects research and activism and hereby touches upon a core element of degrowth and socio-ecological transformation.
Concrete Utopia as education of desire: the role of social experiments in the transformation of the Social Imaginary
Authors: Barbara Muraca
Abstract: Aim of the paper is to explore how far social experiments gravitating around the idea of degrowth can contribute to a radical (social ecological) transformation of society. After a brief introduction about societal transformation, I will focus on the transformation of the Social Imaginary and the role of concrete utopias in enhancing it. By following Levitas I consider the ‘education of desire’ as a core function of concrete utopias. Social experiments considered in terms of concrete utopias can become subversive and emancipatory spaces for experimenting, experiencing, and negotiating alternative ways of understanding desires and needs.”