OPGE 2014 : Organizing for the post-growth economy
Call For Papers
Perpetual economic growth is an underlying assumption of the contemporary
capitalist organization of society. The idea of growth is embedded not only
in the corpus of economic thought but also in the institutions of the
economy (Binswanger, 2013; Gorz, 2012). More recently, entrepreneurship,
innovation and creativity have been seen as possible ways to solve the
current economic and environmental crisis as well as to generate growth
(Schaper, 2002). This is the case because entrepreneurship and innovation
are portrayed as seeds of new initiatives and ideas that will boost
economic development while simultaneously reduce its impact on the climate.
Such a belief has produced new markets, such as carbon markets, and an
emerging 'climate capitalism' (Böhm, Murtola and Spoelstra, 2012). At the
heart of this logic is a faith in the individual economic actor, not least
the entrepreneur, as a gifted individual with unique abilities (Shane,
2003). And it is evident that the current post-crisis discourse keeps its
confidence in the emergent socially responsible economic actor who will
contribute to the construction of a moral economy' (Arvidsson, 2013).
This *ephemera* conference seeks to question the feasibility, moral
legitimacy and sustainability of perpetual economic growth. Although
contested, current political and popular beliefs tend to hold that the twin
crises of economy and ecology are merely temporary, exceptional phenomena
and that the global economy will soon bounce back to business as usual.
However, others have suggested that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift
in the nature of capitalism (Heinberg, 2011). Instead of using our energies
to prevent this shift from happening it may be more fruitful to appreciate
the opportunities for reflection that are offered by the crisis. On the one
hand, we should learn from history and see that the history of capitalism
is indeed the history of revolutions. This suggests that we indeed may be
at the brink of a new phase in society where we experience a change in the
underlying structures. On the other hand, we can explore new forms of
economic organization that do not rest upon the condition of growth
(Schumacher, 1973; Latouche, 2009; Eisenstein, 2011). Even though the
prerequisite of growth has been subjected to criticism within economic
theory (Herrera, 2011), we need to further explore its implications. Taken
together, the challenge is, in other words, to imagine what a sustainable
post-growth economy might look like (Gorz, 1999; Seidl, 2010; Paech, 2012).
If growth is intrinsic to the current capitalist organization of society,
then we need to ask to what extent it is possible to image a system that
does not presuppose perpetual growth. Is economy without growth a
contradiction in terms? We can approach the seeming paradox of the
post-growth economy by rethinking fundamental economic concepts in today's
capitalist society. Since the value of growth seems to be deeply embedded
in many of the most basic economic concepts used today, we therefore need
to reconsider from the perspective of a post-growth economy: What is a
market without growth? What is the role of entrepreneurship? And
consumption? What would constitute organization and work? What is money?
And most importantly of all, what is economic growth? These questions may
be approached theoretically by analysing their implicit assumptions
connected with the paradigm of growth-oriented capitalism (e.g. Daly,
1996), or they may be explored empirically by studying actual practices of
alternative economic organization (e.g. North, 2010), such as, for example,
slow food movements and direct trade.
The aim of a conference on a post-growth economy is not solely or even
primarily to produce new knowledge but instead to think about what to do
with the knowledge that we already have. Certainly, the problem of growth
is nothing new. Since at least the end of the 1960s, it has been known that
the expansion of the capitalist economy would eventually run up against the
natural boundaries of earth (Carson, 2000; Measows et al., 1972;
Georgescu-Roegen, 1971). The most pressing problem today with regards to
sustainability is not that we do not know what to do; rather, the problem
is that even though we know very well what to do, we are still not doing
it. In other words, we know very know that current level of pollution
caused by fossil fuels is not sustainable from a long-term point of view.
Yet, by maintaining the current level of production and consumption, we
behave as if it is. There is therefore an aspect of cynicism, in
Sloterdijk's sense of the term, which needs to be addressed in relation to
sustainability and contemporary capitalism.
The ambition of this conference is thus to bring together researchers,
practitioners and activists who share an interest in the issue of economic
growth and sustainability. We particularly welcome submissions that
explore the paradoxes of a post-growth economy and the interrelated themes
of sustainability and entrepreneurship, alongside an exploration of the
cultural and political context out of which they have emerged. Possible
topics include but are not limited to the following:
- What is post-growth economy?
- What would count as work in a post-growth economy?
- What should management be like in a post-growth economy?
- What is the role of entrepreneurship in a post-growth economy?
- What constitute organization in a post-growth economy?
- What is the role of finance and debt in a post-growth economy?
- What would consumption be like in a post-growth economy?
*Deadlines, conference fee and further information*
The conference takes place at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, 8-9 of
May 2014. The conference is organized by the Department of Management,
Politics and Philosophy. The conference is associated with the
Sustainability platform and the Entrepreneurship platform at CBS.
The deadline for submitting abstracts is 31 January 2014. The abstracts, of
no more than 500 words, should be submitted in the format of a Word
document to the mail address: postgrowth2014 AT
*ephemera* encourages contributions in a variety of formats including
articles, notes, interviews, book reviews, photo essays and other
experimental modes of representation. The conference fee has not been set
yet, as it is dependent on the number of participants, but will be kept to
a minimum, approximately EUR100. PhD candidates pay a reduced fee, most
likely EUR50. Further information about the conference can be found on the
conference website: *http://www.ephemerajournal.org
Arvidsson, A. (2013) 'The potential of consumer publics', *ephemera*,
Binswanger, H.C. (2013) *Die Wachstumsspirale: Geld, Energie und
Imagination in der Dynamik des Marktprozesses.* Marburg: Metropolis-Verlag.
Böhm, S., AM Murtola and S. Spoelstra (2012 eds.) 'The atmosphere
business', *ephemera*, 12(1/2): 1-11.
Carson, R. (2000) *Silent Spring*. London: Penguin.
Daly, H. (1996) *Beyond growth: The economics of sustainable development*.
Boston: Beacon Press.
Eisenstein, C. (2011) *Sacred economics: Money, gift, & society in the age
of transition*. Berkeley, Calif.: Evolver Editions.
Georgescu-Roegen, N. (1971) *The entropy law and the economic process*.
Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
Gorz, A. (1999) *Reclaiming work: Beyond the wage-based society*.
Cambridge, UK; Malden, MA: Polity Pressl.
Gorz, A. (2012) *Capitalism, socialism, ecology*. New York: Verso.
Heinberg, R. (2011) *The end of growth: Adapting to our new economic
reality*. Forest Row: Clairview.
Herrera, R. (2011) 'A critique of mainstream growth theory: Ways out of the
neoclassical science (-fiction) and toward marxism', in P. Zarembka and R.
Desai (eds.) *Revitalizing marxist theory for today's capitalism (research
in political economy, Vol 27)*. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Latouche, S. (2009) *Farewell to growth*. Cambridge, MA: Polity.
Measows, D., H. Meadows, D.L. Meadows, J. Randers and W.W. Behrens III
(1972) *The limits to growth: A report for THE CLUB OF ROME'S project on
the predicament of mankind*. New York: Universe Books.
North, P. (2010) *Local money: How to make it happen in your community*.
Totnes: Transition Books.
Paech, N. (2012) *Befreiung vom Überfluss: auf dem Weg in die
Postwachstumsökonomie*. München: oekom verlag.
Schumacher, E.F. (1973) *Small is beautiful: A study of economics as if
people mattered*. London: Vintage.
Shane, S. (2003) *A general theory of entrepreneurship. The
individual-opportunity nexus*, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Seidl, I. (2010) *Postwachstumsgesellschaft: neue Konzepte für die Zukunft*.