Contributors: Schmidt, Tiina (Aalto University)
Scientific paper contribution: Downshifting - rejecting the growth imperative or internalizing the neoliberal order?
The paper is co-authored by Kristoffer Wilén
Abstract: In this paper we analyze stories of “downshifting” one’s standard of living, which we encountered when interviewing environmentally conscious people about their lifestyle choices. We found that downshifting narratives shared common structure and themes, including taking a career turn which abandons previous career ambitions either for something more personally meaningful, or for something that is experienced as more “acceptable” in terms of ecological sustainability or/and social equity. We also found that, though the same elements appeared in the structure of the narratives, they were interpreted along different available storylines about downshifting. While analyzing these storylines, we placed these downshifting narratives within the larger context of changes in working life in current post-industrialist capitalist societies, especially related to the individualization and personification of work. Finally, we reflect upon if these findings could also give some hints about how the role of work and consumption could be addressed and redesigned in post-growth societies.