Some of the degrowth ideas have been part of philosophical debates for centuries. Should we trace back sources of degrowth to the Greeks and the critics of hubris? Diogenes in his barrel may have been one of the early degrowth supporters.
The word Décroissance (french for degrowth) appeared for the first time in the seventies in different French publications (Amar, 1976; Gorz, 1977; Georgescu-Roegen, 1979) in the follow-up of the club of Rome report, -‘The limits to growth’-. However Décroissance only became an activist slogan in France from 2001, in Italy from 2004 (Decrescita), in Catalonia (Spain) from 2006 (Decreixement and Decrecimiento). The English term ‘Degrowth’ was accepted at the first degrowth conference in Paris in 2008, which also marked the initiation of degrowth as an academic research area and international civil society debate.
At first glance, degrowth is an idea that is debated in society, even in the mainstream media, and receives much more support than usually believed if we remain at disinterested political level. There is a constellation of groups and networks explicitly existing for degrowth. Practitioners, activists and researchers act and interact in multiple levels and dimensions. There are minorities in some organizations, like trade unions and political movements (or parties) actively supporting degrowth. There is then a much larger group consisting of people and collectives which both contributed to the rise and conceptualization of the movement and which adopt degrowth as the horizon of their action. This includes the areas of agroecology, environmental justice, environmental conflicts and defense of territory (against infrastructures, real state speculation,…), neo-rurals, critical consumption, international cooperation, solidarity economy, local currencies, exchange markets, feminism, eco-villages, do it your-self, reclaim the fields and the streets, alternative mobility (bicycles,…), urban gardens, non-violence and pacifism, anti-advertisement, preventive and alternative medicine, …
Great potentials exist for alliances. The Degrowth movement interacts in the North with other movements such as Indignados, Occupy Wall Street, Transition Towns, Inclusive Democracy, Permaculture,… Similarly, it finds correspondents in the South such as Buen Vivir, Environmentalism of the Poor, Crisis of civilizations, Via Campesina, etc.