Civil and uncivil actors for a Degrowth society

Giacomo D'Alisa Federico Demaria, Claudio Cattaneo

Journal of Civil Society

Within the context of the ecological crisis and technocratic drift of western nations whose overarching goal is economic growth, a plea for degrowth is emerging. In this essay, the concept of degrowth is adopted as an interpretative frame to describe a variety of forms of grassroots activism, mainly across crisis-ridden Europe. Particular attention is devoted to the distinction between forms of alternative activism that respect conventional societal norms and forms of resistance that fundamentally reject some of the key tenets of contemporary market economies. These two forms of grassroots mobilization, whose actors we define, respectively, as ‘civil’ and ‘uncivil’, constitute different (albeit perhaps complementary) imaginaries emerging out of the civil society arena, thus likely to lead to a profound reconsideration of authority (and legitimacy). The integration of both dimensions may contribute to the construction of a new degrowth society.