Growth Critique and Ecological Democratization

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Stephan LORENZ, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany
Although the critique of growth was a founding subject of the early environmental movements and debates environmental sociology has not elaborated growth criticism as a core concept. Therefore, the new emerging of ‘growth’ as an important topic hand in hand with a degrowth movement highlights the ongoing urgency of the subject as well as the sociological failure. In my paper I will propose a sociological understanding of the ecological criticism. In general growth critique will be determined as arguing against self-increasing dynamics in modern societies, i.e. against dynamics which are out of control and just reproducing means without achieving human (social and ecological) ends. For an ecological growth critique these dynamics need to be specified. Here we especially find the critique of science and technology in the industrial society (e.g. Beck, Latour) and also the critique of consumerism in the affluent society (e.g. Baudrillard, Bauman, Beck).

Having outlined the conceptualization of ecological critique the paper will also propose corresponding conceptual means of overcoming the destructive consequences of growth. What I, therefore, call ecological democratization basically draws on the political ecology of Latour (‘Politics of Nature’) but will be broader grounded in theory, i.e. in pragmatism (cf. Dewey, Latour, Boltanski, Sennett) and procedural democracy (Habermas, Latour). With respect to the specified ecological criticism a related concept also needs to focus especially on the democratization of technology and consumption. As a result ‘ecological democratization’ should provide a helpful framework of critical analyses in the field of environmental sociology. Moreover, it can provide procedural advice to account for ecological problems fairly by showing who and what should be included in what way in dealing with problems.