This book explores the concept of degrowth, beginning from a basic assumption, not of resource depletion, as is common in most literature in the field, but rather from a state of abundance, arguing that there is a vast amount of energy on the planet waiting to be utilized by all its inhabitants.

Adopting a sociological approach, Onofrio Romano argues that the growth momentum is not simply a broadly shared “value,” but the physiological outcome of a specific institutional frame. The problem is that in its mainstream formulation the degrowth alternative shares with the growth-led regime some basic anthropological, political, and institutional pillars. In order to build a real alternative, Romano suggests reviewing degrowth in the light of the dépense notion by Georges Bataille. According to Bataille, our societies have no problem with acknowledging scarcity, but with dealing with the surplus energy that calls us to act for a qualified life. So, in order to erase the growth obsession, we have to ward off the “servile” dimension, i.e., the utilitarian activities needed for the mere reproduction of life, to regain sovereignty, as reflected in the de-thinking subject.

Innovative and provocative, Towards a Society of Degrowth will be of great interest to students and scholars of degrowth, sociology, social anthropology, political ecology, and ecological economics.

chapter 1|29 pages

The sociology of growth

chapter 2|24 pages


The rise of a radical alternative

chapter 3|28 pages

Rethinking degrowth through dépense

chapter 4|31 pages

Beyond the servile

The society of degrowth