Downshifting – a Silent Movement Towards Alternative Ways of Living and Working
The intent of this paper is twofold: First, I will shed light on downshifter lifestyles. I explore what makes this movement special. Second, I will highlight its formation conditions. I examine what are the driving forces of these downshifters. Based on an ongoing research project that comprises a document analysis of the downshifter discourse in Germany and 19 biographic interviews with downshifters, I show that downshifting is essentially individualistic, white, middle class, and middle aged. Downshifters do not identify themselves as a political or social movement. They are neither well-defined nor well-organized. However, they form a collective phenomenon by questioning the growth imperative in their daily life. Downshifting is a pragmatic kind of criticism and it refers to imbedded social pathologies of flexible capitalism, but even more: It offers concrete visions for alternative ways of living and working.