Version 3.2

Scale matters for degrowth

No social revolution can succeed without being at the same time a consciously spatial revolution. Responding to the criticisms on the space-blindness and anti-planning sentiment in the degrowth debates, the spatial aspect and planning have drawn increasing attention in the more recent academic degrowth discussions. This paper aims to drive further this discussion on the importance of integrating the space and planning in the degrowth transformation by addressing the issue of spatial scale. More specifically, I make two arguments: firstly, an ontological understanding of scale can underlabour the multi-scalar strategies for degrowth; secondly, the ‘spatial’ in scale should be paid more attention in the political striving for degrowth.

Although degrowth has started to discuss scales by drawing on concept of rescaling, open localism and multi-scalar strategy, I argue that degrowth would benefit from more explicit and systematic engagement with the question of scale. The paper starts with an ontological journey inquiring ‘what is spatial scale’, particularly by drawing on the critical realist perspective. Based on this, the paper explains ‘why scale matters’, through discussing spatial/scalar mechanisms, cross-scale impacts and scalar strategies that are relevant to degrowth. The paper illustrates the importance of scale in pursuing a degrowth future within the field of housing development. The last session briefly suggests ‘how to better integrate the scale issue’ in the pursuit of a degrowth future. This includes taking an explanatory, relational and holistic approach to spatial scales.


Day: 2023-08-31
Start time: 11:00
Duration: 00:15
Room: ZV-8-8
Type: Paper Presentation
Theme: Degrowth as a political project?


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