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Environmental Values

Voluntary Simplicity and the Social Reconstruction of Law: Degrowth from the Grassroots Up

Samuel Alexander

Environmental Values 22 (2013): 287-308. doi: 10.3197/096327113X13581561725356


The Voluntary Simplicity Movement can be understood broadly as a diverse social movement made up of people who are resisting high consumption lifestyles and who are seeking, in various ways, a lower consumption but higher quality of life alternative. The central argument of this paper is that the Voluntary Simplicity Movement or something like it will almost certainly need to expand, organise, radicalise and politicise, if anything resembling a degrowth society is to emerge in law through democratic processes. In a sentence, that is the ‘grass-roots’ or ‘bottom up’ theory of legal and political transformation that will be expounded and defended in this paper. The essential reasoning here is that legal, political and economic structures will never reflect a post-growth ethics of macro-economic sufficiency until a post-consumerist ethics of micro-economic sufficiency is embraced and mainstreamed at the cultural level.


Degrowth, voluntary simplicity, sustainable consumption, transition towns, grassroots, sufficiency

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Degrowth or Regrowth? Mark Whitehead

Eco-Sufficiency and Distributive Sufficientarianism - Friends or Foes? Philipp Kanschik

Coping with the Horizontal Hitch: The 'Con-Formism' of the Degrowth Alternative. Onofrio Romano

Ableism and Disablism in the UK Environmental Movement. Deborah Fenney

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