Christian Kerschnera, Petra Wächterb, Linda Nierlingc, Melf-Hinrich Ehlersd
a Department of Environmental Studies, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
b Post-Doc, University of Vienna, Austria
c Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany
d Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences Group, The James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen, Scotland
Received 24 June 2015, Accepted 24 June 2015, Available online 10 July 2015
Under a Creative Commons license
Few issues in the rapidly expanding body of Degrowth research (e.g. D’Alisa et al., 2014, Sekulova et al., 2013 and Kallis et al., 2010) are as controversial and at the same time scientifically underexplored as the role of technology in the transition to a Degrowth society. The declaration of the Barcelona conference in 2010 called for selective moratoria on certain technologies (“Barcelona Declaration”, 2010), but discussions in Leipzig in 2014 were far from such a consensus. Two contrapositions were apparent: technology criticism following Illich, 1973, Elull, 1964 and Schumacher, 1973 and other critical authors versus technology enthusiasm that, for example, agrees with Gorz (1994) on the potential of digital fabricators. Ideas of simplification of life with less or low technology clash with visions of a true democratisation of society through the use of certain technologies (both high and low tech) such as open source programming, DIY tractors and photovoltaic panels. However
, reality is not as “black and white” as it may seem. There is a wide range of potentially overlapping positions around scepticism and enthusiasm towards the role of technologies in Degrowth. This special volume aims to present and discuss these positions based on theoretical and empirical perspectives from authors with diverse backgrounds such as Science and Technology Studies, Philosophy of Technology, Ecological Economics, Industrial Ecology, Technology Assessment, Innovation Studies, Political Science and Anthropology. It focuses on how technology transforms ecology, society and the economy and emphasizes inter- and transdisciplinary approaches.
The special volume aims to both provide 1) a state of the art selection of current discussions of the role of technology within Degrowth in academia and practice and 2) a deepened reflection on technologies with the aim to specify perspectives and to overcome their entrenchment. The first section will revisit influential thinkers (Illich, Elull, Schumacher, Georgescu-Roegen, Castoriadis, the Luddites, etc.) and introduce promising approaches towards technology, which have not yet entered the Degrowth discourse. The second section will provide space for authors calling for a “democratisation of technology”, including practice-oriented case studies. These argue, among others, that problems of technology can be overcome through open access and elimination of undemocratic control by corporations and elites. A third section includes contributions from authors showing how technologies can be evaluated and assessed from a Degrowth perspective. These contributions depart from the premise
that technologies are neither per se beneficial nor detrimental for a Degrowth society. They develop normative guidelines and selection criteria for a framework to map roles of technologies in the Degrowth context. Finally, we are open to complementary analyses of Degrowth and technology, which explore novel takes on this important issue and provide outlooks on how future practice and research on technology and Degrowth might or should unfold.
1. List of sub-topics for this special issue
1.1. Degrowth and technology: theoretical and historical perspectives
The existing Degrowth literature builds on the ideas and concepts of a variety of past and contemporary perspectives on technology (Latouche, 2009), starting from the works of Georgescu Roegen (1971), Illich (1973), over Mumford (1967) to Elull, 1964 and Castoriadis, 1985 and others such as Bijker, 1995, Dickson, 1975, Feenberg, 1999 and Sclove, 1995 and Winner (1980). Weiterlesen