Towards a Science of Deep Transformations: Initiating a Dialogue between Degrowth and Critical Realism

Hubert Buch-Hansen*, Iana Nesterova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Degrowth scholarship has enjoyed considerable momentum in recent times, resulting in a growing, diverse and vibrant field of research. Against this background, it becomes pertinent to reflect on the nature of degrowth science and on the philosophical assumptions underpinning it. Advocates of the degrowth perspective have so far largely abstained from engaging in such reflections and have yet to discuss degrowth in relation to established philosophy of science perspectives. The present paper puts degrowth in a discourse with critical realist philosophy of science to provide visions as to what degrowth as a science can see itself as and strive to become. A dialogue between the two perspectives that brings into focus ontology, epistemology and axiology is initiated. It is suggested that degrowth scholarship contains many elements that are consistent with critical realism, albeit arguably in a scattered manner. While degrowth aims to enact change in the real world, critical realism offers a deep account of the real world and proposes how knowledge of it can emerge and result in transformative practice. The paper proposes that degrowth scholarship can come to be practised in a more holistic manner and thus advance by engaging with critical realism
Original languageEnglish
Article number107188
JournalEcological Economics
Volume190
Number of pages9
ISSN0921-8009
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Keywords

  • Critical realism
  • Degrowth
  • Philosophy of science
  • Structure and agency
  • Sustainability transformations

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