Every day, food consumers in affluent societies throw away a great deal of food. The precise quantities are difficult to calculate. In Europe, estimates range from 95 and 115 kilos per person per year (Gustavsson et al., 2011). One of the reasons for all this waste, some suggest (Kneafsey, 2008), is that consumers are geographically and socially disconnected from production.
Nowadays the newfound corporate penchant for sustainability programs and sustainability reporting is met with increasing disillusionment and critique on the part of the public, environmental groups, and critical management studies community, the realization being that if companies are jumping on the sustainability bandwagon, it is not because of a pang of responsibility for nature but because of a good business case (Banerjee, 2003; Painter-Morland and ten Bos, 2016; Phillips, 2014).
Alexander Paulsson (AP): A very warm welcome to all the participants of this roundtable, where we will discuss Degrowth: A vocabulary for a new era published by Routledge in 2015. Giorgos Kallis and Giacomo D’Alisa – co-editors of the book together with Federico Demaria – are here today. Stefania Barca and Ekaterina Chertkovskaya will act as discussants. We will also have plenty of time for general discussion. Giorgos, would you like to start?[*]
Unless we realize that the present market society, structured around the brutally competitive imperative of ‘grow or die’, is a thoroughly impersonal, self-operating mechanism, we will falsely tend to blame technology as such or population growth as such for environmental [and social] problems. We will ignore their root causes, such as trade for profit, industrial expansion, and the identification of ‘progress’ with corporate self-interest.
This text is a transcript of a keynote held at the conference: Economy, people and planet – Towards a new economic paradigm. The conference is an annual joint venture between Copenhagen Business School and the Danish network of transition activists Omstilling.Nu. The stated goal of the conference is ‘to qualify the economic thinking and discourse in the light of the current sustainability challenge.’ The transcript has been lightly edited for readability but the verbal style of the text is retained:
Background: Capitalism, for-profit enterprise and the growth fetish
Capitalism is an economic system in which most businesses and the means of production are privately owned and operated for profit (Shleifer, 1998). Underlying the modern evolution of this system has been the neoclassical concept of Homo economicus, in which humans are believed to be mostly selfish and competitive, and the best way to incentivize innovation and facilitate economic activity is to appeal to individual self-interest (Gintis, 2000).
It’s a true story … being a young intellectual, I wanted desperately to get away, see something different … I was on a small boat … the fishermen went out in their frail crafts at their own risk. It was this risk, this danger, which I loved to share … One day, then, as we were waiting for the moment to pull in the nets, a fisherman known as Petit-Jean … pointed out to me something floating on the surface of the waves. It was a small can, a sardine can.
Issue Editors: Emma Jeanes, Mary Phillips and Niamh Moore
This special issue of ephemera maps social practices of collective organizing on a low budget in cities today. ‘"Saving" the city’ expresses the imperative to economize while at the same time harbouring the desire to ‘rescue’ – recollecting an urban civil society via mobilising the public, helping neighbourhoods, creating public spaces, and heterogeneous possibilities of living to cope with today’s and future challenges.
Ethical brands have risen to prominence in recent years as a market solution to a diverse range of political, social and, in this case most interestingly, ethical problems. By signifying the ethical beliefs of the firm behind them, ethical brands offer an apparently simple solution to ethical consumers: buy into the brands that represent the value systems that they believe in and avoid buying into those with value-systems that they do not believe in.