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Degrowth in the Semi-Periphery: Ecology and Class in Central and Eastern Europe


The aim of this extended review essay is to discuss the potential relevance of degrowth-aligned social-ecological transformation for the specific context of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). We frame this discussion around three recent books which we consider especially useful for this debate: The Future is Degrowth by Schmelzer et al. (2022, in Czech 2023) for an up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the concept of degrowth; Marx in the Anthropocene by Saito (2023) for an ecologically grounded debate on anticapitalist strategies stemming from writings of late Marx; and The Political Economy of Middle Class Politics and the Global Crisis in Eastern Europe by Gagyi (2021) that empirically analyses the specific position of the CEE semiperiphery and its implications for a radical social-ecological transformation. We introduce and interlink the main ideas of these books and discuss their implications for the degrowth movement in the CEE context. We argue that to deeply transform our socio-metabolic relation with nature, it is crucial to cultivate and expand spaces of reproductive autonomy, and link them to struggles of labour and social movements. We conclude by emphasising the role of internationalism from below.


degrowth, Central and Eastern Europe , semi-periphery , catch-up development, reproductive autonomy, economic alternatives, environmental labour studies

Discussion Article (PDF)

Author Biography

Josef Patočka

Josef Patočka is a researcher and organiser with Re-set: Platform for Socio-ecological Transformation who focuses on the politics of social and ecological justice in the areas of labour, housing and energy.

Martin Čech

Martin Čech is an environmentalist and researcher in the non-profit organisation NaZemi. He is mainly concerned with degrowth theory and its public policies.

Eva Fraňková

Eva Fraňková is an ecological economist at the Department of Environmental Studies at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. Her long-term interests include local economic alternatives, social metabolism and degrowth.