The paradox of growth critique: Narrative analysis of the Finnish sustainable consumption and production debate
Academic discussion on economic growth and the environment has made a comeback under the auspices of the degrowth debate. To date, however, literature on the topic has been mainly theoretical and empirical studies of actual policy discussions have received less attention. This article contributes to the debate with a narrative policy analysis of interviews with members of Finland's Committee on sustainable consumption and production. Narrative policy analysis is suitable for complex policy cases. By tracing and comparing the different stories, non-stories and counterstories in the debate, the analysis clarifies the issue and paves the way for solutions. We found that it is common even among business and ministry representatives to criticize the current growth-bound economic system. From the perspective of narrative policy analysis, however, this critique only increases uncertainty and complexity in the policy field which, paradoxically, leads to a strengthening of the dominant growth stories. We suggest that constructing a complete degrowth story is essential for supporting democratic deliberation on sustainability. Robust institutional support for degrowth work together with research and experimentation are important milestones on the way.
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