Degrowth in Action

an ethnographic study of Voluntary Simplicity

Academic Paper

This began as my Master’s Anthropology thesis for the University of Sussex. I obtained a Distinction in this paper. I am currently adapting this to submit to an academic journal, and it will serve as a preliminary study for my doctorate research.

ABSTRACT

“Scholars are joining under what continental Europe calls degrowth theory, pushing for an alternative way of life in an attempt to ‘rekindle the political imagination’ (Bottici, 2014, p.2). The present study, conducted during a weeklong stay with a community practicing voluntary simplicity, looks at the imaginary significations of simplifiers, studying the values they hold and live by. It identifies two themes, sharing and sufficiency, that allows us to deeper understand what a degrowth social imaginary might look like. The first part of this paper looks at voluntary simplicity, degrowth and the imaginary. The second part of this paper starts with an ethnographic account of a dinner I experienced during my fieldwork, followed by an analysis of it. The conclusion suggests that sharing and sufficiency allude to a mutual imaginary signification of global connection that is different from the one globalisation ascribes to us.”