Version 3.2

Degrowth and the Artisan Class

Five decades after The Limits to Growth was published, it is exceedingly clear that growth must be retired as a fundamental rationale of economic policy, both in the Global North and the Global South. There is also significant consensus that the growth motive is intrinsic to how capitalism functions, and that something other than capital must propel socio-economic transitions and organize work in de-growing societies. What that non-capital is, however, and how it may motivate people to work in a radically different context of interests and valuations, remains much more murky. If the capital relation produces path dependencies around growth, interest, inequality and extractivism, what class relation is capable of healing this rift? How will the macro-socioeconomic ideals behind degrowth translate into the microeconomic realm: Into concrete labor, done by whom, for what reasons, and leading to what kind of compensation?

We argue that a significant part of this answer lies in re-engaging theories and practices of the ‘artisan class’: Livelihoods performed without separating tools (into capital) and worker (into labor). In studying artisan labor formations, we see the logic and ideas of degrowth in a great number of existing economic practices and spaces, from peasant farming to family-run retail and independent professionals. Artisan work is motivated not by profit, but by the need to achieve subsistence - an ideal motivational frame for work in steady-state economics. Our presentation proposes a theoretical framework for artisan labor, in the context of degrowth literature and politics.


Day: 2023-08-31
Start time: 12:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: ZV-8-5
Type: Paper Presentation
Theme: Alternative economies


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