Working papers

    Working paper 2016-1: Building Transition by Social Innovation: The Case of the Drome Valley
    O. De Schutter, S. Bui, I. Cassiers, T. Dedeurwaerdere, B. Galand, H. Jeanmart, M. Nyssens et E.Verhaegen
    (Novembre 2016)
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    • Abstract:
      The ecological and social transition can be conceived as operating from the top: guided by the State, through legal regulations and economic incentives, and by planning tools, to move to a low-carbon society. It can also be thought of as the result of local initiatives in the areas of food, energy, or mobility, wherein (groups of) persons create solutions from various motivations and in specific contexts, relying on local material resources and know-hows. In this paper, we analyze the changes in the Drôme valley, a territory of 54,000 inhabitants, where a large number of such initiatives have developed in the last few years and where – among others – a major local sustainable development programme called Biovallée is implemented. Taking the Drôme valley as our departure point, we seek to explore the factors that could foster ecological and social transition from local initiatives, as well as the challenges and obstacles encountered. Taking into account its historical context and the geographic and demographic characteristics, we seek to identify the conditions which supported territory-based transition in this laboratory region. Our analysis highlights (i) the role of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations leading individuals to engage in social innovations ; (ii) the governance mechansisms and the networking that favored the emergence of shared values and visions allowing a shift in social norms ; and (iii) the new grammar of public action required by this emerging conception of transition and the new tools that public authorities can deploy to make it happen.

    Working paper 2016-2 : The  Cage and the Labyrinth:  Escaping the Religion of Growth
    Olivier De Schutter
    (December 2016)
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    • Abstract
      The impasse we encounter as we try to define the contours of a post-growth economy is the product of an interaction between behavioral changes at the level of the individual, wired to develop an "acquisitive mentality", and the responses to such changes at societal level, which reinforce that mentality and encourage acquisitiveness as a survival strategy for the individual in an environment that puts competition above cooperation. Moreover, although a small but growing part of opinion ackowledges the limits to growth, the means through which to steer society in a different direction remain vague and contested. These two constraints impede our ability to move away from the inherited system. The collective action problem posed by the need to move beyond growth, however, can also be seen as a promise. For we can only escape the cage by recognizing that the transition calls for a plurality of solutions, because there are a number of ways to unlock the system. We are in a cage, perhaps; but we are not in a labyrinth that would only allow for one escape route: it is building on the double predicament that we can imagine governance tools through which the post-growth can emerge.