Special Issue "Degrowth: The Economic Alternative for the Anthropocene"


A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2012)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Nicolas Kosoy
McGill School of Environment (MSE), 3534 University Avenue, Montreal, QC H3Z 2A7, Canada
Website: http://www.mcgill.ca/mse/nicolas-kosoy
E-Mail: nicolas.kosoy@mcgill.ca
Phone: +1 514 398 7944
Fax: +1 514 398 7990
Interests: ecological economics; degrowth; theory of value; markets for nature

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The special issue on “Growth, Recession or Degrowth for Sustainability and Equity?” (edited by François Schneider, Giorgos Kallis, Joan Martinez-Alier), published by the Journal of Cleaner Production (Volume 18, Issue 6, 2010 ), constitutes a keystone in the analysis of this emerging economic paradigm. That collection of articles has contributed to trigger debates about the most appropriate way to conceptualize degrowth. The editors have built their theoretical approach mostly on European thinkers, which offers a clear and consistent framework. However, according to our view, this theoretical background―though useful in some circumstances― has not yet been extended so as to grasp the wide variety of alternative social movements and views that promote degrowth but do not call it as such. In particular, we refer to Latin American environmental justice organizations that use the term “Buen Vivir: or “Suma Kausak” (good living in English) to refer to alternative economic and social paradigms that take into account social and ecological complexities and boundaries.  In addition, the emphasis among some ecological economists in North America on economic valuation of ecosystem services and other non-market values makes the Americas a context for degrowth that provides an opportunity to emphasize particular issues in the degrowth discussion.

This Special Issue, outlined below, is the result of the collective effort of the organizers and participants to the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas in Montreal, May 2012. The Special Issue has considerable added value as it builds upon and enhances previous theoretical frameworks, so different world views within the community of degrowth and environmental justice are better represented in degrowth debates.

This special issue starts with an introductory paper from the editors, providing a shared framework to conceptualize degrowth and environmental justice as alternatives to the growth paradigm. The Special Issue is then divided in five (5) interrelated sections matching most of the six (6) main topics of the International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas. Each theme will be covered by a selection of the most relevant theoretical and empirical papers presented at the conference.

  • Knowing. How can the physical, biological and social sciences help us in understanding how to enhance the flourishing of the Earth’s life systems?
  • Relating. What means of relationship and exchange can help enhance the continual flourishing of the Earth’s life systems?
  • Consenting. How can the major political, economic, development, social, technical, and scientific priorities of society be developed with broad and informed public dialogue and consent?
  • Sharing. How can the radically unjust inequalities between people be eliminated; and how can the human fair share of the Earth’s life support systems be defined and achieved?
  • Experiencing. What would a flourishing society look and feel like for individuals and collectives at various temporal and spatial scales?

Dr. Nicolas Kosoy
Guest Editor


  • Knowing
    biology; physics; chemistry; life sciences; ecology; boundaries; limits; thresholds; life systems; cycles; evolution; cosmology; thermodynamics; research; uncertainty; risk; indicators; metrics; technology; scale; momentum; traditional knowledges; stocks; flows; bioproductivity; biocapacity; life support capacity
  • Relating
    interconnectivity; relationship; exchange; materiality; commodification; commensurability; valuation; commonwealth of life; economics; ownership; sacredness; empathy; rationality; industrialisation; sense of place; localism; conviviality; simplicity; cooperation; waste; employment; capitalism; reciprocity; symbiosis; altruism; competition; money; currencies; banking systems; gender; multiculturalism
  • Consenting
    discourse; deliberation; advertising; media; politics; education; deception; brainwashing; hegemony; propaganda; truth; dialogue; democracy; public sphere authoritarianism; conviction; trust; fear; honest brokers; expertise; governance; regulations; subsidiarity; consent; accountability; norms; laws; institutions; capitalism; socialism; other “isms”; imperialism; militarism
  • Sharing
    sharing; fairness; justice; inequality; differentiation; fair share; distribution; limits; sufficiency; greed; us-them dynamics; intergenerational; intragenerational; interspecies; north-south; developed; developing; overconsumption; poverty; biodiversity; extinction; population; imperialisms; exploitation; accumulation; appropriation; privatization; commons; theft; Ponzi schemes; casino economy; taxes
  • Experiencing
    psychological wellbeing; interspecies wellbeing; happiness economics; public health; environmental integrity; risk prevention; security; public services; conservation; diversity; sufficiency; beauty; dignity; reverence; respect; slow movements; creativity and imagination; regenerative cycles; maintaining; evolving; innovation; involution; biosystems mimicry; change; foresight; hindsight; fufillment; reflection, challenge, restorative justice, self-sufficiency; provisioning; food; energy; entertainment; work, community; housing; transportation; education; communication systems; day-to-day life

Published Papers (6 papers)

Sustainability 2013, 5(1), 276-297; doi:10.3390/su5010276
Received: 14 November 2012; in revised form: 31 December 2012 / Accepted: 5 January 2013 / Published: 21 January 2013
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Sustainability 2013, 5(1), 316-337; doi:10.3390/su5010316
Received: 13 November 2012; in revised form: 7 January 2013 / Accepted: 14 January 2013 / Published: 22 January 2013
Show/Hide Abstract | Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (225 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text

Sustainability 2013, 5(3), 1067-1079; doi:10.3390/su5031067
Received: 8 November 2012; in revised form: 31 January 2013 / Accepted: 4 February 2013 / Published: 7 March 2013
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Sustainability 2013, 5(3), 1282-1303; doi:10.3390/su5031282
Received: 30 October 2012; in revised form: 7 January 2013 / Accepted: 7 February 2013 / Published: 20 March 2013
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by , , ,  and
Sustainability 2013, 5(4), 1545-1567; doi:10.3390/su5041545
Received: 23 January 2013; in revised form: 16 February 2013 / Accepted: 25 March 2013 / Published: 11 April 2013
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by , , , , , , ,  and
Sustainability 2013, 5(6), 2802-2826; doi:10.3390/su5062802
Received: 15 April 2013; in revised form: 29 May 2013 / Accepted: 30 May 2013 / Published: 20 June 2013
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Last update: 4 March 2014

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