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Accepted Contribution:

Ecological delinking. Degrowing key industries in the global north: the case of automobility  
Giulio Nizzo (University of Turin)

Short abstract:

How can complex productive processes be disentangled from the growth imperative? This article will consider automobility as a paradigmatic example of the challenges faced when attempting to rethink production, and the underlying cultures and norms, within the hostile context of the global market.

Long abstract:

The socio-technical productive assemblages underpinning contemporary capitalist societies – production lines, value chains, R&D departments – all play a pivotal role in perpetuating an unsustainable mode of relating to the environment. At the same time, these assemblages are inextricably bound to external forces outside the control of both individual actors and firms: a ‘mute compulsion’ exerted by capital, urging socio-economic entities to take determined decisions irrespective of their own subjective will (Mau, 2019). The result is that inherently destructive productive pathways are locked-in by economic forces which prevent, both technically and economically, the conversion of complex and highly technological productive processes in the pursuit of degrowth.

Mobilising theory in an effort of prefiguration, this article will address the question of how a firm would operate in a degrowth setting. How would objects be assembled if producers were no longer submitted to the profit motive and the forces of market competition? Under what conditions could such an endeavour succeed? To tackle these questions, I will apply Samir Amin’s concept of delinking to describe the task of unbinding the industrial production of countries in the global north from the ecologically unsustainable drives of capital accumulation. I will consider the case of the automobile industry as a paradigmatic example of the obstacles faced when aiming to reconvert key industries within an ecologically sustainable socio-economic paradigm. Drawing on STS literature, the article will then reflect on the consequences of delinking for the technology behind the products, as well as for their design.

Combined Format Open Panel P346
STS and post-growth futures: a place for critical perspectives on societal change
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 July, 2024, -