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Sociograph 59 - Sociological Research Studies

Sufficiency and wellbeing: a study of degrowth practices in the Geneva and Vaud area

Orlane Moynat

2022, numéro 59

Meilleur mémoire de master de l'année 2020

ISBN: 978-2-940386-69-7

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Consumption is a crucial issue in relation to environmental sustainability, particularly addressed through studies on the impact of consumption patterns on the environment. Consumption patterns have also been considered in relation to another dimension of sustainability that involves people’s quality of life and notions of social justice. In that respect, there has been a growing interest in the links between consumption, environmental sustainability and wellbeing (Guillen-Royo & Wilhite, 2015; Brand-Correa & Steinberger, 2017; Gough, 2017 among others). One hopeful hypothesis suggests that reduced consumption levels and associated negative impacts might actually lead to higher wellbeing – what Tim Jackson has termed the double dividend (2005). Yet, more empirical evidence is needed to better understand this double dividend. This book draws on a research project that aimed at understanding the nexus between everyday consumption patterns and wellbeing, in relation to sufficiency – or absolute reductions in consumption. Building on Max Neef’s theories of fundamental human needs (1991) and a social practice theory approach to consumption (Shove, 2003 among others), this work proposes a distinctive conceptual framework that supports the theoretical and empirical compatibility of social practice theory, consumption reduction, and a needs-based considerations of wellbeing. Drawing on individual interviews with people close to the Geneva degrowth movement network (Réseau d’objection de croissance), the book questions the relationship between everyday life consumption and the good life. It illustrates how the understanding of the nexus between sufficiency and wellbeing through everyday practices can be considered as a window of opportunity towards forms of change that would take into account environmental and social dimensions of sustainability, as equally crucial and interrelated aspects of (sustainable) wellbeing.