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Housekeeping against accumulation: Lifestyle minimalism, de-growth and the present post-ecological condition

Wednesday 22 November 2017, 4.00PM

Speaker: Miriam Meissner, Maastricht University

Sociology Open Lecture

The post-2008 financial crisis era has seen an upsurge in cultural initiatives that implicitly reject key principles of capitalist productivity, consumption and growth by lamenting a so-called ‘world of too much’, advocating ethics of minimalism, and renouncing everyday busyness. Examples range from lifestyle advice on simplicity, de-cluttering private homes, and the ‘life-changing magic of tidying’ (Kondo 2014) – to quests for the reduction of individual labour, communication, social contacts and distraction. This talk theorizes these initiatives according to an interdisciplinary trajectory that mobilizes the concepts of ‘anti-accumulation’ and ‘housekeeping’. It examines a series of popular cultural narratives that promote lifestyle minimalism and critically questions these narratives in terms of eco-politics. Drawing on Tim Jackson’s call for an understanding of ‘prosperity beyond growth’ as well as Kate Soper’s concept of ‘alternative hedonism’, the talk will argue that contemporary lifestyle minimalism holds potential in re-directing cultures of accumulation towards more sustainable ends. At the same time, the talk will present key characteristics of lifestyle minimalism that currently counteract this agenda. 

Location: Room W/222, Wentworth College

Admission: is by free ticket only. Please book below.

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