Reception of degrowth topics in the local and global contexts
9th International Degrowth Conference, Zagreb, 2023 (Photo: Bojan Mrđenović)

Despite the large attendance and the diversity of the program, the 9th International Degrowth Conference, which was held in Zagreb in 2023, was met with media resistance and caused a series of strong reactions, even mockery from some media outlets, in spite of the key guest appearance of the co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the presence of researchers and activists for global justice from Croatia and abroad. The conference in Zagreb was the first live event on degrowth after the global pandemic, and a key point in the official organizing of the global degrowth movement. 

Therefore, our last event before the summer break is a conversation with sociologist Jelena Puđak and philosopher Mladen Domazet from the conference organisation team. On Tuesday, July 9, at Multimedia institute MaMa, Preradovićeva 18, Zagreb, Domazet and Puđak will discuss the different receptions of degrowth in the Croatian media.  

The latest reports from IPCC and IPBES suggest that degrowth policies should be taken into account in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss, respectively. Researchers in ecological economics and broader post-growth cultural shift have been increasingly cooperating on transdisciplinary research through a growing number of international events, alongside a series of international degrowth conferences that, since 2008, have provided a platform for international discussion on these topics from scientific, activist and cultural perspectives.

Previous research shows a strong environmental concern of the population of Zagreb and Croatia, although their willingness to step up to the systematic prevention of ecological collapse is lower than that in Westen Europe. Despite being among the poorest EU countries, support for values and social norms consistent with degrowth in Zagreb is comparable to, or even greater than, in wealthier European regions.

This lecture contrasts such views with the representation of degrowth in media. Discourse analysis of degrowth-themed articles from newspapers and online publications reveals different conceptual framings of degrowth in the media. This presentation is based on research that draws lessons for initiatives seeking a democratic transition away from growth dependence, highlighting the gap between media portrayals and public attitudes about degrowth. Are we witnessing a transformation of the elite’s stance on degrowth, from neglect to active mockery and suppression? “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, and then you win.” (N. Klein, trade union activist, 1918)

The talk is part of the WHW discursive program History of Art and Society: Conversations on Degrowth. The program is supported by City Office for Culture and Civil Society of the City of Zagreb and Kultura Nova Foundation.