Housekeeping Against Accumulation: Lifestyle Minimalism, De-Growth and the Present Post-Ecological Condition

Wednesday 22 November 2017, 4.00PM to 5.00pm

Speaker: Miriam Meissner (Maastricht University)

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 labor, communication, social contacts and distraction. My paper 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 paper argues that contemporary lifestyle minimalism holds potential in re-directing cultures of accumulation towards more sustainable ends. At the same time, the paper presents key characteristics of lifestyle minimalism that currently counteract this agenda. 

Location: Wentworth College, W/222

Admission: FREE Eventbrite

Email: sarah.shrive-morrison@york.ac.uk

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