Innovation and degrowth

Last updated, 24 Jul 2015
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Special issue of Prometheus. Critical Studies in Innovation
Call for papers pdf: 

Call for Papers to a special issue of Prometheus. Critical Studies in Innovation (ABS 2*) on “Innovation and degrowth”

Guest Editors 

  • Steffen Roth, ESC Rennes School of Business, France
  • Miguel Pérez-Valls, University of Almeria, Spain
  • Jari Kaivo-oja, University of Turku, Finland

Innovation is essential for economic growth. The dominant view therefore is that innovation and human development are inseparable. However, ecological economists have argued that an insatiable appetite for the creative destruction leads to the self-destruction of humankind. The key component of the growth engine (Jackson, 2011), innovation, constantly renovates the iron cage of consumerism that eventually consumes the planet to excess (Urry, 2010), while popular attempts to link innovation and sustainability constantly fail to green the economy as they do not challenge the overall functionality of the growth engine (Schneider et al., 2010; van Griethuysen, 2010). Innovation is therefore considered part of the problem rather than a solution for sustainable degrowth (Bonaiuti, 2012).
Solutions for degrowth, however, expressly draw on the concepts of innovation and growth, too. Defined as a form of downscaling (Latouche, 2006; Fotopoulos, 2007; Schneider et al., 2010), sustainable degrowth is consistently said to be achieved when “small to medium scale innovations such as shared mobility, shared housing systems or community currencies (…) can be scaled up and provide the building blocks of a future degrowth society” (Schneider et al., 2010, pp. 515, emphasis added). Not all forms of innovation and growth are thus considered destructive, with researchers in degrowth particularly advocating qualitative changes and social innovations (Jackson, 2011; Kallis, 2011). Sustainable degrowth may therefore be discussed as driver for change (Martínez-Alier et al., 2010), as large scale innovation challenge (Westley et al., 2011), or, as much as any emerging concept or movement, as an innovation in itself.
Innovation and degrowth are obviously not antagonists. Yet, the dissonance produced by the observation that alternatives to an innovation driven growth engine are assumed to be again in innovation and growth deserves more attention. This special issue of Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation therefore seeks to explore the interface of growth and innovation with a focus on paradoxes, ironies, and inconsistencies, the observation of which allows for an almost ludic attitude to this actually quite serious discourse. We expressly welcome contributions that challenge background assumptions behind claims for or against growth and innovation, thus refocusing images of non-economic forms of growth (Roth, 2014) and innovation (Roth, 2015), rephrasing issues linked to de-linking (Kaivo-oja et al., 2014), or reconsidering social limits to growth (Hirsch, 2005).

See the full CFP for more information. The deadline for submission is December 30, 2015