Health and Degrowth – special issue – call for papers

Call for papers

Special issue: Health and Degrowth

“Increasing and irreparable damage accompanies present industrial expansion in all sectors. In medicine, this damage appears as iatrogenesis […] only a political program aimed at the limitation of professional management of health will enable people to recover their powers for health care, and that such a program is integral to a society-wide criticism and restraint of the industrial mode of production”

Ivan Illich, Medical Nemesis, 1976

The ideal of growth has pervaded every aspect of our society and imaginary. The concept of health (conceived as “physical, mental and social well-being”) is indeed not immune from the influence of this totalitarian paradigm. However, despite the words of caveat written by Ivan Illich more than 40 years ago, the health field has not been a core object of analysis by degrowth scholars until recent times, when some authors have tried to explore the mutual connections that could be established between health and degrowth (Aillon et al. 2012, 2014; Borowy 2013; De Vogli and Owusu 2015; Missoni 2015; Borowy and Aillon 2017).

In this special issue we would like to further explore this topic, providing space for work that, within different disciplines (public health, medical anthropology and sociology, psychology, economics, political ecology, etc.) and approaches (both theoretical or experimental qualitative or quantitative researches), explores the complex relationship between health, medical systems and growth/degrowth.

Below some possible themes and questions provided as examples:

  • – Effects of growth on health.
  • – Degrowth effects on health.
  • – Social determinants of health and the contribution of critical public health to degrowth.
  • – Sustainability, health and degrowth, with particular attention to climate change and environmental pollution.
  • – How could health, medicine, welfare and health systems be conceived in a degrowth transition? How could they be sustainable from an economic point of view?
  • – How to practice medicine within a degrowth frame?
  • – The contribution of psychology, and in particular humanistic psychology and psychoanalysis, to degrowth.
  • – The contribution of medical anthropology and sociology to degrowth.
  • – Macro-economic models of degrowth that can capture the short and long-term effects of degrowth policies on health. Elaboration of an indicator that can adequately express the connection between health today and its relations to health (needs) of future generations.
  • – Trajectories and extent of physical, social and cultural iatrogenesis nowadays. From which threshold does medicalization become counterproductive?
  • – The role of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine within a degrowth framework.
  • – The concept of care in degrowth literature and its repercussion into health field.
  • – Case studies on grassroots actions or community projects that promote health on a micro level leading a transition towards a more sustainable and healthy society.


  1. –       Abstract (not exceeding 250 words) should be sent to the editors by November 15th 2019.
  2. –       The editors will select from 5 to 7 papers and authors will be notified of acceptance of their abstract by December 15th 2019.
  3. –       Full papers (not exceeding 8.000 words) should be sent to the editors by March 31th 2020.
  4. –       Reviewers’ comments will be available to authors by April 30th 2020.
  5. –       Final versions of papers should be submitted by May 31st 2020.

More information


  • –        Aillon, J.L., Dal Monte, P., Ferrari, C. and Gardini, A. (2012) Special session on health and degrowth. In: Third International Conference on Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity, Venezia, 19–23 September. Aillon.-doctors-for-degrowth.pdf. Accessed 5 May 2016
  • –        Aillon, J.L. and Dal Santo, E. (2014) ‘Health and Degrowth’, a new paradigm in the field of sustainability. Paper presented at the Fourth International Conference on Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity, Leipzig 2014. 3503.pdf. Accessed 5 May 2016.
  • –        Borowy, I. (2013) Degrowth and public health in Cuba: Lessons from the past? Journal of Cleaner Production 38: 17–26.
  • –        Borowy, I., & Aillon, J. L. (2017) Sustainable health and degrowth: Health, health care and society beyond the growth paradigm. Social Theory & Health, 15(3), 346-368.
  • –        De Vogli, R. and Owusu, J.T. (2015) The causes and health effects of the Great Recession: From neoliberalism to ‘healthy de-growth’. Critical Public Health 25/1: 15–31.
  • –        Missoni, E. (2015) Degrowth and health: Local action should be linked to global policies and governance for health. Sustainability Science 10/3: 439–450.

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