”Postponed due to corona, new date to be confirmed” - Slowing Down, Letting Go: Exploring Current Cultural Practices of Detoxing and Deaccumulation

Organisers: Dorthe Refslund Christensen and Carsten Stage (norcs@cc.au.dk)

26.02.2020 | Yasmin Marie Jensen

Dato tir 01 sep
Tid 13:15 16:00
Sted Nobelparken, building 1483, room 354

Lecture I: Digital detox – the politics of disconnection

By Trine Syvertsen, professor, IMK, Oslo University

Social media and smartphones are criticised for being addictive, destroying personal relationships, undermining productivity, and invading privacy. In this talk, Trine Syvertsen explores the phenomenon of digital detox: users taking a break from digital media or adopting measures to limit smartphone and social media use. Based on the book 'Digital detox - the politics of disconnection' (Emerald 2020), Syvertsen discusses how users reduce their online engagement through time-limitations, restrictions on smartphone use, productivity apps, and use of analogue media. Syvertsen shows how digital detoxing has much in common with other forms of self-help such as mindfulness, decluttering and simple living, and places digital detox within a culture of self-optimisation. But digital detox also fits into broader social agendas such as sustaining conversations in polarised societies, better work-life-balance, a deeper connection with nature and building sustainable futures.

Syvertsen is Head of DIGITOX-project: Intrusive media, ambivalent users and digital detox



Lecture II (via Zoom): Minimalist lifestyles – from popular culture to degrowth politics?

By Miriam Meissner, assistant professor, Urban Studies, Maastricht University

It is widely known and accepted that the current state of planetary ecosystems is alarming. What is less established is that, according to most scientist, the only reliable means towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss at the speed and scale required is to transition towards an economy that can do without incessant economic growth - a so-called degrowth economy. Currently, degrowth is associated with radicalism and utopianism. Beyond that, people tend to assume that degrowth is just another term for austerity - that it means to tighten one’s belt and be less happy. Culture can play a significant role in changing established attitudes towards degrowth. Existing degrowth scholarship therefore studies alternative cultural practices, such as voluntary simplicity or community gardening, among many others. Such practices are considered as prefigurative. They show in the present what a future degrowth society would look like. In this talk, I argue that it is time to broaden the focus in degrowth scholarship and politics from prefiguration to popularization. To illustrate this argument, I examine minimalist lifestyle practices and narratives in contemporary popular culture. Minimalist lifestyles include self-help guides on how to declutter the house and agenda, online blogs on minimalist lifestyle hacks, Youtube tutorials on how to live zero waste, and the list goes on. They share with degrowth an interest in the reduction of material consumption and wage labour. At the same time, however, they also tie in and reaffirm existing growth hegemony, because they target societal elites, promote new modes of consumption and wasting, and tend to foreclose systemic critiques of capitalist growth. This is why existing critical discourses (my work included) have dismissed the political capacity of minimalist lifestyles in promoting economic system change. In this talk, I intend to challenge this attitude. Drawing on Stuart Hall's concept of politics as production, I argue that an effective cultural politics of degrowth needs to strive towards popularization by appropriating practices in existing popular culture, even if these practices are not (yet) perfectly aligned with the political agenda of degrowth.

Meissner’s current research: From Minimalist Forms to Post-Growth Economies? Advancing a Critical Formalist Perspective

Seminar, Kulturelle Transformationer