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The Paradox of Sustainable Degrowth and a Convivial Alternative

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Insofar as development implies economic growth, the term 'sustainable development' appears to some as a contradiction in terms. However, such conclusions still lack a thorough examination of the conceptual structure of the two terms between which there is a purported contradiction. In order to address this issue, the present paper scrutinises some of the assumptions which underwrite the ideologies of sustainability and of development. It is argued that there are key assumptions which both ideas have in common, and that sustainable development is thus perfectly coherent on a conceptual level. It is alternatives which retain either term (such as 'sustainable degrowth') that are embroiled in paradox. The paper then examines two concepts for criticising the ideology of economic growth in other terms: dépense and conviviality. It is argued that the latter is preferable to the former for the purpose of developing post-sustainable critiques of growth.

Keywords: Degrowth; conviviality; dépense; sustainability

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2022) of 2.2. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.5.
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