TRS.20.026 – A good life beyond growth? Analysing grassroots and policy initiatives for a new vision of prosperity

Route: Towards resilient societies

Cluster question: 071 What do we mean by 'quality of life'?

One of the most urgent questions of our times is whether economic growth will deliver well-being for all while staying within the ecological limits of our planet. A rising number of scientists, politicians and citizens think that this will not be the case, and that prosperity must be reconceptualised and de-linked with GDP growth. Post-growth research is gaining momentum inside universities, in The Netherlands as elsewhere. This research questions the benefits of infinite growth and calls for a re-evaluation of unsustainable ideals of the ‘good life’. While the empirical evidence grounding such claims is still largely lacking, grassroots and policy initiatives that emphasise ‘sustainable well-living instead of growth’ are emerging. Our research alliance invites partners interested in an empirical investigation of the requirements for living well and sustainably beyond growth-centric economies. We are interested in comparing and contrasting such grassroots and governmental initiatives in Europe, Asia and Oceania: How do these initiatives challenge a growth-centric vision of prosperity? What is their relation to resilience, sustainability and well-being? What are their politico-economic contexts? And do they represent the cutting edge of a broader post-growth transition? Analysing these initiatives requires an interdisciplinary team. Our consortium will include expertise in ecological economics, urban and rural sociology, development studies, psychology and philosophy. It also includes partners in civil society organizations. We will rely on an integrated methodology able to combine qualitative ethnographic data on values, practices, and economic relations with quantitative data on resource use. This approach will allow a nuanced theorisation of how ideals of the good life shape and are shaped by economic and ecological conditions in different settings. The project promises to transform our understanding of resilient and sustainable societies by rethinking what is meant by prosperity.


capitalism, Post-growth, resilience, sustainabiliy, values, well-being

Other organisations

Commons Network, Ontgroei-The Dutch Degrowth Platform, University of Amsterdam (UvA), University of Maastricht (UM), Utrecht University (UU)


Organisation ISS - Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)
Name Dr. J.F. (Julien-Francois) Gerber