Regulation beyond Growth

By Durand, Cedric; Lege, Philippe | Capital & Class, February 2013 | Go to article overview

Regulation beyond Growth

Durand, Cedric, Lege, Philippe, Capital & Class


De-growth theses have attracted growing interest in the past decades, as the appeal of the concept of sustainable development has decreased in the absence of substantial progress concerning environmental and social durability (Martinez-Alier et al. 2010), and as ecological concerns are growing with the rapid extension of the Western capitalist civilisational path all over the world. In December 2009, the failure of international negotiations in Copenhagen to tackle the rise of greenhouse gas emissions along with the subsequent climatic disorders have given momentum to a general sense of alarm--a feeling that became even more acute with the disappointing results of the Rio Earth Summit in June 2012. With the beginning of the great economic crisis, sustainability has receded on the agenda again, as governments all over the world struggle to maintain financial stability and to escape from another great recession. Taken together, these elements cast doubt on the very possibility of the implementation of the sustainable development paradigm. Contrastingly, de-growth arguments may seem to offer a consistent diagnosis of the degradation of the economic, social and ecological situation, and point to the need for an alternative civilisational path.

We can trace the origin of 'de-growth' in Andre Gorz's comments on the Meadows Report in the early 1970s (Bosquet and Gorz 1973). However, the intellectual appeal of this current is the result of its combination of two distinctive schools. Economists such as Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and Herman Daly focus mainly on the ecological limits of Earth and its economic implications. They consider that a decreasing material intensity of GDP growth is not able to stabilise the material throughput of economic activity. Indeed, the hypothesis of Kuznets's environmental curve has so far proven to be misleading: if local pollution is able to diminish above a certain level of GDP per capita output, the global environmental negative externalities - in areas such as climate change or biodiversity, for example--are not. For these ecological economists, the main issue is thus to de-grow, or to attain a steady state in order to diminish the material throughput of the economies.

The second main source of influence of the de-growth current is post-development literature, including leading authors such as Ivan Illich, Serge Latouche and Arturo Escobar. Development is considered to be a Eurocentric anthropological project and, more specifically, an occidental 'belief' (Rist 1996) which has been imposed through colonisation and neo-colonisation at the expenses of other cultures. Most of the research has focused on discourses and aims to deconstruct this concept in order to free subjectivities from its domination. According to Serge Latouche, a society of de-growth should thus be understood as a 'society built on quality rather than on quantity, on cooperation rather than on competition ... humanity liberated from economism for which social justice is the objective. ... The motto of de-growth aims primarily at pointing the insane objective of growth for growth' (2003:18).

Drawing on both ecological economists and post-development studies, a rich network of grassroots movements, political currents and journals have emerged that endorse the de-growth slogan. It is influential in the global North, but also in the global South, especially among indigenous movements from Latin America, and has attracted interest from across most of the spectrum of the left. (1)

For the regulationist school in particular, and radical political economy in general, de-growth theses are thus important since they point to a potential renewal of critical thinking able to link intellectual research and social movements. However, from a regulationist perspective, the debate is troublesome. Indeed, the focus of regulation theory (hereafter RT) is to analyse the social conditions of the accumulation of capital in the medium term, but not so much the wider prospects for growth. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Regulation beyond Growth


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.