Alternative Lifestyles in Growth-Critical Societies – Conceptual Reflections on Social Movements

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: F206
Oral Presentation
Dietmar J. WETZEL , University of Bern, Switzerland
Dietmar J. WETZEL , University of Bern, Switzerland

This paper attempts to give some conceptual reflections about the ongoing debate in social philosophy/social theory with regard to the conditions and the possibilities of an embodiment of the good and the right in sociological research. To look more closely and empirically to the outcomes of these debates, the focus lies on the conceptualization of lifestyles which are taken from different social movements/thoughts in Switzerland dealing with questions of (post-) growth (e.g. Décroissance). Concerning these lifestyles for the actors it seems to be not so much whether or not the GDP is growing, but for them it is all about the rejection of growth as the dominant social imaginary (Castoriadis 1990, Latouche 2009) and instead of thinking about the design of alternative lifestyles. Two main themes will be presented:

(1) Social-theoretical focus: From the background of a discourse analytical approach the genealogy of growth will be examined and how this concept is treated in different movements. Besides the study of social and cultural practices, the (value) beliefs are primarily considered from an overall theoretical perspective. One main question is how individuals and communities are capable to make experiences of resonance in times of growth-critical societies.

(2) Empirical focus: Some hints can be given concerning the (sometimes disparate) designs or experimental lifestyles that are compatible with the requirements of a post-growth society. The central intuition here is that a successful life management depends not only on ethical and aesthetic ideas of a singular individual, but includes as well moral and political justice considerations (Sandel 1995, Nussbaum 2010).