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Abstract for Special Session at the Degrowth Conference, Leipzig, September 2014
Petra Wächter email@example.com
Linda Nierling firstname.lastname@example.org
Bettina Barthel email@example.com
Melf-Hinrich Ehlers firstname.lastname@example.org
Christian Kerschner email@example.com
Benjamin Best firstname.lastname@example.org
Technology and Degrowth Part 2: Practical Cases
Technology and the development of new technologies play a crucial role in the degrowth context: on the one hand, technologies made it even possible to exhaust natural resources to an extent far above the limits of sustainable use. On the other hand, technologies can contribute to a more efficient use of natural resources and help to reach a stadium of sustainability. While these crucial positions has led to manifold discussions in other research disciplines such as technology assessment, sociology of sciences and technology or philosophy it is an underdeveloped field in the degrowth community.
Within the degrowth community, two contrapositions towards technology can be found: one position is opposing technological development as it contributes to a growth economy. Here, the limitations of technology for solving environmental and social problems are highlighted. Others appreciate new technological options such as open source technologies for their potential to contribute to a more democratic access to knowledge. As no technology can be free from controversies a number of questions arise when discussing the role of technologies: what technologies do we need for a degrowth society? Who decides on what technologies we need? How do these technologies look like? How should we make use of them?
The session aims to discuss and analyze these and further questions that deal with the role of technology within a degrowth society. Hereby, the focus lies on practical examples of technology use within the degrowth context. In this session, not only specific technologies (e.g. open source technologies) will be discussed, but also initiatives that deal with specific technologies and its use (e.g. do-it-yourself approaches of energy production and use) will be presented. The presentations will give an analysis of the specific impact of the technologie(s) on a degrowth transition and will give ideas how they can be elaborated and further developed.
The session targets to identify and to explore the role of practical cases as examples to a transition towards degrowth. It will be discussed which part technologies can play to contribute to a degrowth society.
In elected contributions, various fields of interest such as energy use, housing, do-it-yourself approaches are covered within the session:
1. Energy technologies and their impact on a degrowth society
Author: Petra Wächter (Institute of Technology Assessment, Austrian Academy of Sciences)
2. Reducing Energy Dependence at Urban Scale as an Aspect of Degrowth
Authors: Andrea Immendoerfer, Oliver Parodi, Colette Waitz, Markus Winkelmann (ITAS/KIT)
3. Open Source Technologies
The session will be a scientific session with a focus on scientific presentations. A number of 3 presentations ensure that there will be enough time for discussions between the presenters as well as with the audience. It is planned that all speakers will be part of a concluding round table at the end of the session. Here, speakers together with the audience will further elaborate on the one hand on the role of technological innovation and function of technology use within the degrowth context. On the other hand, it will be discussed whether or how technologies can be further developed for a “transition towards degrowth”. Finally, the moderator will give a short summary on the main results of this special session.