A discourse looking for coherence
Degrowth has become a thriving academic field, with several hundreds of peer-reviewed publications and a growing community of thinkers and doers. The field is complex, being not only transdisciplinary, but also bridging science and activism. The topic it studies is not an esoteric concern: the socio-ecological crisis and public frustration with our current economic system has catapulted degrowth to previously unseen heights of engagement. Just after the Covid-19 pandemic shaking the very foundation of how we think our relation to nature and others, there has never been a better time to research degrowth.
But doing so is not easy. For someone new to the field, gathering key publications is a daunting treasure hunt, with articles scattered over various journals and books. Quite problematically, it is not uncommon to read incoherent depictions of degrowth. For example, one can read about degrowth being compatible with capitalism, or confused with austerity measures.
Degrowth as a specialised topic deserves its own specialised journal. Degrowth thinkers and doers need an oasis for theoretical work; a place where ideas can be further developed without the need to constantly start from zero making the case for degrowth; a place to voice conceptual conflicts and bring up difficult discussions.
Therefore we, as a collective of junior scholars, have created Degrowth, an academic journal dedicated to the subject, where authors will be able to build on each other's work, expanding and strengthening the analytical power of degrowth imaginaries.
Knowledge for people and planet, not profit
Degrowth needs a home, but not any home. Today, most academic journals are governed by a few privately owned, for-profit corporations. These publishers hold an oligopoly on peer-reviewed knowledge, to which they charge for access, even though there is no legitimate reason for them to do so. Most work required for publication processes - like editing and peer-reviewing - is done on a 'voluntary basis', and the research itself is not funded by the journals but by various funding bodies, including universities, who are later charged to access their own research.
Science cannot remain a prisoner of the capitalist game, and critical academics should not be bystanders to the unjust enclosure of knowledge. It is a tragic irony that those who criticise capitalism meanwhile rely on capitalist firms to publish their critiques of capitalism. Profit making should have no role in science, especially when that very science is about how to escape the social-ecological dead-end created by capitalism. This is not a call for heroic sacrifice; rather, we, the founding editors of this journal, are convinced that by taking a collective stance, critical scholars have the power to change academic culture for the better.
Let us apply the logic of commoning and create a safe 'knowledge commons' in order to protect our ability to study important questions, starting with imagining life beyond growth and capitalism. The journal Degrowth embodies core values of degrowth such as autonomy and solidarity: its goal is to decommodify knowledge, to go against the mass profiteering of commercial publishers and defend free access to science for the common good. This is why the journal is open access and free of charge for both readers and authors.
A publication counter-culture
More than a journal, Degrowth promotes a new publication culture, one that puts quality before quantity and that embraces the principles of slow science. A collaborative science that is free, open, and accessible to all; and an emancipatory science that takes the urgency of the ecological crises seriously while also caring for researchers' well-being. In other words, a science that embodies degrowth.
The publication game is heavily stacked against counter-hegemonic discourses such as degrowth. Under the 'publish-or-perish' imperative, academics are pushed to worship impact factors and quantity over quality in order to have academic 'careers'. As GDP reductionism shows us, there is great danger in allowing a single metric to determine the success of a system as complex as society or science.
The reality is that if all authors strived to maximise indicators such as impact factors, a good way to do this would be to not write about degrowth. Unfortunately, many scholars are faced with focusing on such indicators in order to fund their research. This absurd situation calls for rethinking research priorities, diverting efforts away from people-pleasing, easy-to-publish ideas, to the more fundamental puzzles that stand in the way of social-ecological justice.
This metric-driven way of doing research and science reproduces a toxic system that encourages certain paradigms that are often unable to tackle the pressing issues of our time. On top of that, it is also a culture that weighs heavily on (often overworked) academics, perpetuating unsustainable practices of fast and furious scholarship. Science must be socially useful, but it must also be socially sustainable.
A home for degrowth
So, welcome to Degrowth journal: an academic, open-access, international, transdisciplinary peer-reviewed journal that focuses on contributions in and around the topic of degrowth. The journal seeks to publish texts of various forms. Check our first call for contributions here.
Who we are
The founding members of the collective are Tor Persson (administrator), Timothée Parrique (editor), Scott Leatham (editor), Sabrina Chakori (editor), Nick Fitzpatrick (editor), Eeva Houtbeckers (editor), Enrique Mejia (editor), and Ben Robra (editor).
Degrowth journal is organised as a free, academic, open-access, international, transdisciplinary, and peer-reviewed journal that focuses on advancing the goals of degrowth. It will be published online including open issues and special-issues, and later, rolling submission.
Organised as an international, independent, non-profit association, the editorial collective is decentralised across various countries (e.g., Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK). We meet regularly and operate following the principles of radical democracy. We are currently running without funding and affiliations.
A journal is like a community garden, and there is no community garden without gardeners. That's where you come in.
First, we're looking for writers: researchers sharing their latest scientific discoveries or their perspectives about specific issues; thinkers wishing to share their exploration of a topic in an essay; bookworms eager to write a review of their latest read; students excited to summarise their theses; doers who have a story to tell about a conference, a meeting, or anything else they feel might be relevant to the readers of this journal. This is a safe place to grow wild ideas; don't hesitate to submit.
Second, we're inviting experts to review papers. Do you have expertise in a topic that relates to degrowth? If yes, get in touch; we're building a database of researchers in all career stages to take part in the review process.
Third, we want to engage readers in the discussion. Did you find a piece particularly engaging? If you're willing to write a commentary, we'll be happy to consider it for publication.
Finally, we are continuously looking for scholars to become editors. We encourage people from all backgrounds to apply; and especially people that are currently underrepresented in academia. As of now, our publishing capacity is very limited because we are only a few, but the more editors join us, the more papers we will be able to review. We are also open to new additions for new people to help us run the journal in an administrative capacity. Just get in touch with us if you are interested (email@example.com).