Distributed degrowth technology: Challenges for blockchain beyond the green economy

Howson, Pete (2021) Distributed degrowth technology: Challenges for blockchain beyond the green economy. Ecological Economics, 184. p. 107020. ISSN 0921-8009

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2021.107020


This commentary considers the challenges and trade-offs in using blockchain as the facilitating digital infrastructure for degrowth projects. A blockchain is simply a distributed database. The technology is being used for a wide range of applications relevant to economic exchange and environmental sustainability. Many degrowth scholars wholly reject technical fixes for politically induced environmental crises, seeing blockchain projects as wasteful and counter to convivial social relations. Others highlight the technology’s potential for facilitating redistributive and regenerative economies, but without much detail. This paper argues that if blockchain is ever to prove useful for the degrowth movement it would need to overcome challenges in three important areas: 1) building democratic and (re)distributive economies, 2) regenerating the environment without commodifying it, and 3) facilitating international alliances without imposing a particular set of values. What is certain is that technology on its own will not transcend the political struggles tackled by degrowth activists. However, under certain conditions, blockchain might make those struggles more effective.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: blockchain, degrowth, technology, sustainability, decolonisation, cryptocurrencies
Subjects: J900 Others in Technology
L100 Economics
L900 Others in Social studies
N100 Business studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2021 11:42
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2022 03:30
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/45616

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