Call for Papers for a Special Issue on „Promises of growth and sustainability in the bioeconomy“ of the Journal for Sustainable Consumption and Production

More information on Special Issue on Promises of growth and sustainability in the bioeconomy of the Journal for Sustainable Consumption and Production

In current debates about the future of modern societies, one concept is increasingly marshalled as providing an answer to multiple challenges: the bioeconomy. The dominant narrative makes the claim that shifting to a bioeconomy based on the flow of renewable energies and biological resources societies can achieve both: ‘green’ economic growth and a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels and resources, thus building a sustainable future. 

The aim of this Special Issue is to shed light on the nexus of sustainability, technology and growth within the bioeconomy from multidisciplinary, critical and constructive perspectives. We invite empirical and/or conceptual contributions addressing but not limited to the following questions: 

  • Can growth-based economies really be made sustainable by just basing them on biogenic instead of fossil materials and resources? 
  • Do the bioeconomy and the innovations of modern biotechnology enable a decoupling of environmental throughput from GDP? 
  • Would the transformation of modern societies towards post-fossil, bio-based economic activities need to involve an overcoming of unlimited economic growth? 
  • What would political processes and bioeconomy implementation strategies have to look like in order to transform the economy in a democratic and participatory way?

The above mentioned Special Issue is a cooperation between Forschungszentrum Juelich as a topical editor (Sandra Venghaus) and the Junior Research Group flumen as guest editors (Dr. Dennis Eversberg, Dr. Martin Fritz, Lilian Pungas).

We would like to invite you to submit papers (various formats possible such as research and review articles, short communications). 

The deadline is June 30, 2021. 

Papers will be peer-reviewed and the aim is to have final papers accepted and sent to production by 30th November 2021, which should mean the special issue can be finalised by the end of the year/early 2022. All information you need as an author with this journal you can find here

Do not hesitate to write to us if you have any further questions. Also, we would be very grateful if you shared the call with any colleagues that might be interested.

Dr. Dennis Eversberg

Dr. Martin Fritz      

Lilian Pungas        

Jana Holz took part in the workshop „potentials of the concept of a circular economy“

„Empty Promises and self-fulfilling prophecies. Bioeconomy (and circular economy) from a critique of growth perspective” – that was the title of Jana Holz’ keynote, that she held in the online workshop “potentials of the concept of a circular economy“ on 24 March 2021.

The workshop was part of the discussion series “degrowth – vision of the future or an illusion?” organized by the AK Wien and Degrowth Vienna.

Jana Holz takes part in the 3rd International Forest Policy Meeting, 17-18 March 2021

Jana Holz takes part in the 3rd International Forest Policy Meeting (IFPM3) ( on March 17 and 18, 2021. The event is organized by the Chair of Forest and Environmental Policy, University of Freiburg together with IUFRO Division 09.05.

In the panel “Global Forest Bioeconomy: Continuity or a Pathway to Transformations?” Jana gives a lecture on “Forest-based Bioeconomy in Finland: Extractivist Loopholes?“. She also contributes to the 3MT Competition (Three Minute Thesis Competition), where she will present the topic of her doctorate to a wide audience within three minutes. Here is more information about the 3MT competition idea.

Matthias Schmelzer participates at the workshop „The Ecology of Economic Thought“ at the Weatherhead Center/Harvard University, 03 Feb 2021

He will present his paper „The Critique of Growth in Historical Context“. The workshop will run from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Please register here


‘The Limits to Certainty and the Metaphysics of Infinitude’ Nandita Badami (UC Irvine)
Discussants: Venus Bivar (York) and Kristoffer Ekberg (Chalmers)

‘Writing the History of Ecological Economic Thought’ Antoine Missemer (CIRED Paris) and Marco Paulo Vianna Franco (KLI)
Discussants: Julia Nordblad (Uppsala) and Matthias Schmelzer (Jena)

‘Critiques of Growth in Historical Context’ Matthias Schmelzer (Jena)
Discussants: Roman Gilmintinov (Duke) and Glenda Sluga (EUI)

„The Ecology of Economic Thought“ is a five-part online workshop of the Canada Program at Weatherhead Center of the Harvard University. See more

New article by Dennis Eversberg: From democracy at others’ expense to externalization at democracy’s expense: Property-based personhood and citizenship struggles in organized and flexible capitalism


This contribution investigates the anthropological foundations of European democracies’ continuous entanglement with economic and military expansionism and a hierarchical separation between public and private spheres, both of which have enabled the appropriation of nature and others’ labour as property on which citizens’ abstract personhood could be founded. Drawing on an argument made by David Graeber, it is suggested that modern European history can be interpreted as a process of the ‘generalization of avoidance’, in which such abstract, property-based forms of personhood, which were initially what defined the superior party in relations of hierarchy, came to be a model for the figures of market participant and citizen within the spheres of formal equal exchange of economy and politics. From this perspective, and building on an account of different stages of capitalist history as ‘subjectivation regimes’, the article then analyses the transition from the ‘exclusive democracy’ of post-war organized capitalism in Western Europe, in which citizens’ entitlement, through the collective guarantees of ‘social property’ (Castel), increasingly allowed individualized competitive practices of status attainment and gave rise to individualist movements for extended citizenship, to current-day flexible capitalism. This regime, seizing on those calls and instrumentalizing the desires for competitive status consumption, has effected a broad restructuring of the social as a unified field of competition in which new hierarchies and inequalities materialize in global chains of appropriation, causing a ‘dividual’ fragmentation of property-based personhood and generating calls for responsible citizenship as an inherent counter-movement. In conclusion, it is suggested that anthropologists have much to contribute to investigating the possibility of democratic, post-capitalist ‘anthropologies of degrowth’.

Eversberg, D., 2021. “From democracy at others’ expense to externalization at democracy’s expense: Property-based personhood and citizenship struggles in organized and flexible capitalism” Anthropological Theory. Special Issue: Democracy in Liberal Post-Growth Societies. doi:10.1177/1463499620977995

Download for free

New article by Lilian Pungas: “Caring dachas – Food self-provisioning in Eastern Europe through the lens of care”

Lilian Pungas, 2021. “Caring dachas – Food self-provisioning in Eastern Europe through the lens of care”, in: Nelson, A., Edwards, F. (Ed.): Food for Degrowth. Perspectives and Practices. Routledge, London & New York, 59-74.

Abstract: The notions of care and stewardship are at the root of all practices concerning food production – from ploughing the soil and sowing, to harvesting, cooking, preserving and composting. Yet, in contrast to cooking, cultivating land is often not perceived as ‘classical’ care work. Instead, care is mostly framed as an interhuman activity concerned with human sustenance and reproduction and therefore, associated mostly with household work, raising children and taking care of the elderly (Waerness 1984; Jochimsen 2003). Given that care remains a rather marginalised category, my goal in this chapter is to reinforce and enrich the discourse on care in degrowth scholarship by demonstrating how food self-provisioning (FSP) in both urban and periurban areas is grounded in ideas of care and stewardship, not only as an interhuman act, but also in connection to the soil and surrounding environment. In this sense, caring means ‘reaching out to something other than the self’ (Tronto 1993, 102) implying a deep empathy with other (living) beings, as well as being followed by some form of action.

Drawing on four of Tronto’s (1993) expressions of care, I demonstrate that, despite seeming ‘irrational’ in economic terms, FSP is essentially a very rational act of care based on a deep understanding of interdependence and mutual vulnerability between humans and nonhuman nature (Gottschlich 2012). Care manifests as reciprocal ‘caring about’, ‘care-giving’ and ‘care-receiving’ with the surrounding environment, the gardener’s community and oneself. In this case study, I explore how notions of care are expressed in FSP, and how they can all be recognised as predominant intrinsic motives behind this practice. In contrast, I display how promises and narratives of industrial agriculture fall into Tronto’s fourth category (‘taking care of’) as rather ‘masculine’, ‘public’ and ‘loud’ manifestations of care. Tronto’s (2013) subsequent, fth, dimension of care (‘caring with’) constitutes a less hierarchical relationship as well as a complex interdependence between both counterparts (care-giver and care-receiver) so might provide an additional (potentially more appropriate) framework for analysing care in FSP practice. However, in this chapter the focus lies on the other four dimensions of care for the sake of nuanced analysis of specic aspects and motives of care practice with regard to FSP. 

The article is part of the miscenally: Nelson, A., Edwards, F. (Ed.), 2021. Food for Degrowth. Perspectives and Practices. Routledge, London & New York.

This collection breaks new ground by investigating applications of degrowth in a range of geographic, practical and theoretical contexts along the food chain. Degrowth challenges growth and advocates for everyday practices that limit socio-metabolic energy and material flows within planetary constraints. As such, the editors intend to map possibilities for food for degrowth to become established as a field of study.

International contributors offer a range of examples and possibilities to develop more sustainable, localised, resilient and healthy food systems using degrowth principles of sufficiency, frugal abundance, security, autonomy and conviviality. Chapters are clustered in parts that critically examine food for degrowth in spheres of the household, collectives, networks, and narratives of broader activism and discourses. Themes include broadening and deepening concepts of care in food provisioning and social contexts; critically applying appropriate technologies; appreciating and integrating indigenous perspectives; challenging notions of ‘waste’, ‘circular economies’ and commodification; and addressing the ever-present impacts of market logic framed by growth.

This book will be of greatest interest to students and scholars of critical food studies, sustainability studies, urban political ecology, geography, environmental studies such as environmental sociology, anthropology, ethnography, ecological economics and urban design and planning.

Working Paper No. 2 published! On the Empty Promises of Growth within the Bioeconomy

Eversberg, Dennis and Jana Holz. 2020. Empty Promises of Growth: The Bioeconomy and Its Multiple Reality Checks


In this paper, we want to make two arguments. Firstly, we observe that the current trend in official policy concepts and strategies of the bioeconomy is toward a moderation of the promises of economic growth that it has been associated with since the beginning of this millennium. We argue that this process of moderation is at least partly due to the effects of a series of ‘reality checks’ that the different existing strands of research on the bioeconomy have (willingly or unwillingly) subjected the promises to, forcing governments to move away from obviously unrealistic visions and adopt more humble ones. We identify four such reality checks, coming from research on (a) bioeconomy discourses and strategies, (b) actors and
interests in the political economy of the bioeconomy, and (c) the economic and biophysical materialities that make up ‘the bioeconomy’. Secondly, we propose that a fourth, sociological reality check is currently being mounted, exposing the social implausibility and democratic illegitimacy of the bioeconomy’s promissory visions. Using survey data from Germany
to develop a provisional analysis of the tensions and conflicts within the population that disagreements about the bioeconomy are embedded in, we suggest putting the bioeconomy in its proper political place as part of the larger societal challenge, rather than promise, of achieving a post-fossil transformation of modern societies.

Our Working Papers

Lilian Pungas: Online Contribution to Oil Shale and Dacha-Gardening in Estonia on 26 November 2020

“Eco-sufficient activities under high-voltage lines and alongside of oil shale mines in Estonia”

Our research colleague Lilian Pungas speaks about oil shale extraction and dacha-gardening in Eastern Estonia.

When? Thursday, 26 November 2020, 1.15 pm.
Moderation: Christina Plank (IPW | Universität Wien)
Where? Online


Estonia is the only member state within the EU, that is for decades consistently mining out oil shale and, thereby, has one of the highest per capita carbon footprint in Europe. Oil shale – for Estonia that means security of supply and a reduction of risks resulting from a dependency on the big neighbour Russia. Paradoxically, oil shale is extracted in Eastern Estonia, where the majority of the Russian-speaking population lives. This group was already in the 1990s disproportionatly suffering from unemployment and poverty. Now, they fear the closing of some mines because of rising carbon-pricing.

In the 1990s, the Russian-speaking population faced their existential fears by cultivating their own food in the so-called ‘dachas’. Till this day, dachas play an enormously important role and illustrates an example, how one can live sustainable and eco-suffiently despite of the manifold contradicitions in the region.

In interviews with the local population additional topics were touched upon: the impacts of the Corona-pandemic on the activities in the dachas, gender issues in the gardening, human-nature relations as well as alienation and eudaimonia.

The contribution of Lilian Pungas is part of the IPW Lectures, an international lecture series by the Department of Political Science, University of Vienna.

Dennis Eversberg at the research colloquium of Prof. Lessenich (LMU München) on 24 November 2020

“Tension is mounting!? Social-ecological mentalities in Germany on the eve of »Fridays for Future« – with this title of his contribution, Dennis Eversberg takes part in the Research Colloquium on Social Analysis and Social Criticism at the Ludwig.Maximilians-Universität Munich.

For some time, the climate seems to be heating up not only biophysically but also socio-politically the athmosphere is getting tense. While some poeple demonstrate on the streets, in the forests and in coal mines in order to demand a fast move from fossilism to global justice, other people discovered the denial of the anthropogenic climate crisis and the resistance to the energy transition as a political field of mobiling for authoritarian-nationalist ideologies. Is the socio-ecological conflict in Germany polarising? Based on a secondary analysis of the survey “Environmental Consciousness in Germany 2018”, the lecture maps the “landscape” of social-ecological mentalities in this country shortly before the recent upswing of the climate movement and analyzes the dynamics of the conflict within the population at that time.

When? 24 November 2020, 6-8 pm.
Where? online via zoom

The research colloquium is organised by Prof. Dr. Stephan Lessenich (Chair of Social Developments and Structures) in cooperation with the Munich Institute for Social and Sustainability Research as well as the Institute for Sociology. Lehrstuhl Soziale Entwicklungen und Strukturen, LMU München) in Kooperation mit der Münchner Projektgruppe für Sozialforschung e.V. und dem Institut für Soziologie.