During the last decade, degrowth has developed into a central research theme within sustainability science. A significant proportion of previous works on degrowth has focused on macro-level units of analysis, such as global or national economies. Less is known about local interpretations of degrowth. This study explored interpretations of growth and degrowth in a local setting and attempts to integrate degrowth ideas into local policy. The work was carried out as a qualitative single-case study of the small town of Alingsås, Sweden. The results revealed two different, yet interrelated, local growth discourses in Alingsås: one relating to population growth and one relating to economic growth. Individuals participating in the degrowth discourse tend to have a sustainability-related profession and/or background in civil society. Arenas for local degrowth discussions are few and temporary and, despite some signs of influence, degrowth-related ideas have not had any significant overall impact on local policy and planning. In practice, degrowth-interested individuals tend to adjust their arguments to the mainstream sustainability discourse and turn to arenas beyond the formal municipal organization when discussing transformative ideas about development, progress, and quality of life. Based on these findings, the conditions for a further integration of degrowth into local policy and planning are discussed. Suggested themes for further research are institutional change and the role of local politicians.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited