Updates on Degrowth & Technology: overcoming the positivist pandemic trauma
Almost 5 years have passed since the publication of the so far most extensive collection of Degrowth and Technology related articles including an extensive metanalysis defining a new research agenda. It categorized thematic angles (theory, case studies, governance and evaluation) and extracted key themes such as conviviality, ‘democratization of technology’, socio-technological imaginaries, etc. However, despite this effort, advances in DG&T were modest since then, which we partly attribute to a general traumatic paralysis during and since the COVID19 pandemic. In this article we first revisit and update the insights of this collection, offering a refined framework for identifying typologies, in an effort to bring structure in a still very new and diffuse field of research. We then use these insights coupled with a strong post normal science perspective to look at the handling of the COVID19 pandemic in Austria, one of the very few counties that imposed mandatory vaccinations for all adults. The invention of COVID19 vaccines has been celebrated in mainstream outlets as a groundbreaking success of science and technology in general and symptomatic technological solutions in particular. Commentators in mainstream media even implicitly illuded to positivist Enlightenment attitudes of the domination of nature, by reporting victories in the battle between humans and the virus. So far, the Degrowth movement has been largely silent with respect to this apparent setback in progressive attitudes towards technology, that contradicts pre-pandemic efforts in Post Normal Science and DG&T. Such attitudes will remain self-contradictory if – unlike for instance Ivan Illich – they knowingly exclude certain areas of science like medicine. This article is an attempt to start a “trauma therapeutical process” for resolving these contradictions and for pointing out ways forward for DG&T.