Society must move together

Sufficiency, especially in construction, still does not receive the necessary attention. According to the Federal Environmental Agency, living space consumptions per person increased from 39.5m² to 46.5m² between 2000 and 2014, even if different groups of people work bravely and tirelessly on the subject: environmental associations and growth critics inform about the necessities, have solution words at hand and hope that enlightened citizens promote implementation. There are theoretically far-reaching solution concepts that sustainability-oriented planners offer. However, although the construction of Tinyhouses, cluster apartments or shared spaces has been thought through, the market has only picked up these impulses at its edges.

Other intentions are Daniel Fuhrhop . Only with his (so called by him) pamphlet and the same name and always liked by me blog, prohibits the building ‘. This has made him a respected representative of a radical position on many podiums in Germany. Because his attitude is clear and understandable, but also a bit strange in a society that unrestrained sealed their land with new buildings.

Now he’s presenting a new book: ” SIMPLY OTHERWISE . Over 66 space wonders for a relaxed home, vibrant neighborhood and green cities “.

That sounds like a change from Fundi to Realo and surprised. No more not building is in the foreground, but there are proposals made to less harmful construction. But why not? If you light a candle on two sides, it burns faster. Because the thrust of both books is ultimately aimed at the content-related phenomena: insufficient space consumption, local housing shortages, rising housing costs and corresponding resource consumption for construction and operation.

While Fuhrhop in the pamphlet reveals grievances that could be corrected in many cases only regulatively, the author tries with the room wonder stories and examples such as the conversions by Gerd Streng, us, the Wohnflächebenutzer / inside to make you want to purify and slimming our grown claims and habits.

Whether one understands the suggestions and examples as appeals or as opportunities, this is left to the reader. There are no abstract and theoretical ideas, no ideological demands on the irresponsible consumers, but lovingly researched themed offers. Positive images, a cheerful color scheme, a lively and varied layout try to convey the benefits of the proposed measures. Instead of triggering forefinger or anxiety, Fuhrhop tries to make you want to focus on the diet.

Interactively with a questionnaire on whether to be an Entrümpler (for me, the questionnaire was the middle class on the Entrümpler scale), with innovative concepts for communal living, with plans by the occupying (rather than sprawling) architect Gerd Strict or space-saving furniture, such as beds under which there is a workplace during the day and which can be lowered from the ceiling in the evening.

But Fuhrhop does not only illustrate and report on the trend towards space-saving furniture (incidentally already taken up by furniture stores a few years ago), but also expands the theme beyond the four walls in which we live.

He suggested that it be possible to check whether it would be possible to move together in one’s own home (usually associated with small conversion measures), report on the more flexible use of space in innovative concepts for communal living, and expand his proposals to the neighborhood. If the prevailing anonymity of residential environments is resolved, if a neighborhood is well connected, then some of the consumer needs shifted to the private sector can be reduced. You can share lawnmowers, lend tools to each other, unused find new users and the resulting more intense social contacts make you feel a safer, more familiar, comfortable and common in the immediate vicinity. Not always measurable in square meters, but quite relevant sustainability aspects.

With the chapter “Re-use houses”, he closes the line to his first book and stays true to himself: avoiding new construction.

Unfortunately, unfortunately, an important reduction of living space will not be achieved by dazzling construction concepts or entertaining stories to the extent that is necessary. There are – absurdly – the so immensely increased housing costs in the sought-after metropolitan areas much more powerful. You live smaller again because bigger is not affordable. But in addition to this area-wide reduction in demand due to price increases, legislative restrictions will be required.

But as long as they are not decided, only positive, useful and inspiring example stories will help. She delivered Fuhrhop, thinking far into a comprehensive whole of topics.


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Towards a trade-off between sustainability and return

Companies are confronted with a conflict of objectives, also referred to as trade-off in English. This arises when objectives and financial goals are not compatible. Companies often face the dilemma: should they invest in socially and ecologically sustainable measures or where a financial gain can be expected?


On a limited planet, the economy can not grow indefinitely. This insight is based on the model of a post-growth economy, which focuses on sufficiency and the lowest possible consumption of raw materials, energy and land . What does that mean for the companies? A post-growth economy requires companies to operate sustainably and conserve natural resources. Profit-oriented companies easily find themselves in a conflict of goals. Especially corporations (AG, GmbH) often find it difficult to reconcile sustainability and profit.

The Business Case for CSR

Established circles in politics and business like to claim that sustainability and profitability are readily reconcilable, based on the so-called Business Case for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This requires companies to set innovative CSR measures and generate profits. CSR companies should also be able to service a conventional bank loan and generate attractive returns for investors. Against the business case argues that CSR measures are associated with additional operating costs that reduce the profit of the company and give the owners a lower return.
Now, if a company is planning a sustainable investments? with low returns, then it does something for the common good, but is unprofitable from a classic perspective. In this case, investors would have to forego returns and the state would have to subsidize the company so that it does not go bankrupt. And because this is not an option for classic economists, they only allow the favorable case: that CSR companies also need to be able to generate profits and generate a positive return.

Open questions

The trade-off between sustainability and return raises completely new questions:

  • How profitable are sustainable investments?
  • Are companies able to take sustainable CSR measures while generating a return that satisfies both creditors and owners?
  • If not, to what extent is the state required to promote CSR measures?
  • What is the overall economic potential of eligible CSR measures?
  • If the state promotes CSR measures, then how can one exclude that state private-sector
    Profits subsidized?

The topic seems so complex and can not be dealt with the well-known, financial-economic theorems.


What are the implications of the trade-off between sustainability and return? To investigate this question, a favorable and an unfavorable case should first be considered. In the best case, a company generates a positive return high enough to service a conventional bank loan. In the worst case scenario, the company’s return is low or fluctuates around the zero line. From a classic point of view, such a company is unprofitable and will find it hard to find investors who join the company or get a loan from a bank.

When the economy slows down

In general, starting from the favorable case and a positive performance, seems in the face of recurring crises no longer timely. When the economy slows down, the trade-off between sustainability and return is particularly acute. Companies are more likely to invest in measures that ensure their continued existence than in social and environmental CSR measures. In order not to jeopardize sustainable economic development in such a situation, the state should create favorable conditions for sustainable investment.

Government regulation with taxes and subsidies

The trade-off between sustainability and return can not easily be resolved according to a classical pattern. Market economy concepts reach their limits here. What is needed is a new policy of state regulation with taxes and subsidies. Especially in a weak economy, the state should take countermeasures with fiscal measures and ensure that sustainable companies receive cheap equity and debt.

One instrument to help companies access equity is a special wealth tax on risk-free investments. A tax of 3% on overnight money and time deposits, safe government bonds and other risk-free and quasi-risk-free investments over a tax-free allowance of € 100,000 would be conceivable in order to protect the small savers. If risk-free investments are taxed more heavily, then investors are more willing to invest in companies and provide equity capital to companies.

Another instrument for the targeted promotion of sustainable investment is the interest-free or low-interest development loan, which is awarded according to strict, social and ecological standards. This can be a conventional bank loan, where the state grants a subsidy to cut interest costs. In this way, companies can reduce the interest burden and get the financial leeway they need to carry out social and environmental CSR measures.


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Will the right to advertising freedom come soon?

A Berlin initiative has big plans: it wants to usher in the end of the era of commercialization of the city

How prevalent advertising and consumption are on the streets and squares of our cities, many people notice at most unconsciously. If one addresses the subject in the circle of acquaintances, one often gets questioning looks – so much have we got used to the ubiquity of commerce and perceive it as a normal part of public space. However, since I heard of the citizens’ initiative Berlin Werbefrei , I am increasingly struck by how obtrusive and intrusive are the constant advertising messages in buses and trains, on house walls, at bus stops and on freestanding billboards. In the meantime, in certain parts of the city, I sometimes feel like I’m in a long-distance TV commercial – with a broken remote control. Because I can hide or switch off the advertising in the city unfortunately not. The initiative is now working with a bill to reduce this constant sensory overload through product and service advertising on our streets and squares to an absolute minimum. Whether that can work?

Yes, according to Fadi El-Ghazi. The lawyer and co-founder of the initiative runs since the announcement of the project from one press date to the next. There is a lot of interest, and opinions differ enormously on the subject. With a friendly smile, he explains what the activists are all about: “Our main concern is to signal against the commercialization of the city and to make a democratic decision on the use of public space. We believe that not only large corporations should serve as a projection screen for their advertising campaigns, but should be used and designed by all citizens. After all, he is common property and living space, and not a commodity. “

According to the bill, which the group has submitted to the Berlin Senate and for which it is currently initiating a referendum, commercial advertising in the public area of ​​Berlin would be inadmissible with few exceptions from the entry into force. Advertisements for events and charitable and cultural purposes, however, would still be possible, but on designated areas (eg Litfass columns) and limited to the maximum dimension A0. In addition, every store on its own façade should continue to promote itself as long as a height of 10 meters is not exceeded. That such a step is possible, have already proven cities like Sao Paulo in Brazil and Grenoble in France with their outdoor advertising bans.

The impact of the law on the face of the city and the perception of public space would be enormous. “I’m looking forward to a city without advertising. Without the annoying, constantly and everywhere insistent purchase requests, the often tasteless or degrading advertising messages … Instead, the view would be free again on architecture, green areas or simply the sky. And one or two dreary walls would be a wonderful area for art without advertising, “says Sarah Mohs, product designer and co-founder of the initiative.

Apart from a visual reassurance of the cityscape, such a ban on outdoor advertising means a noticeable revaluation of public space – as a place of encounter, of social life and of exchange. It would be a sign that not all areas of commercialization need to be divulged and that public goods as such are valued and protected. In addition, smaller stores would attract more attention again – which is why local retailers can look forward to it.

The bill also creates regulations for public institutions such as schools, colleges and even the Berlin public transport authorities: for example, a ban on the advertising of day-care centers and schools (which does not exist at law so far), and clear rules for sponsorships at universities, which ensure transparency here should. The aim of these regulations is to protect the neutrality and independence of public institutions.

Those who are concerned with the psychological, ecological and social effects of advertising are quick to wonder why we have not banished advertising from the cityscape – and perhaps from other areas as well. Apart from the fact that advertising can promote stress and depression , it is above all one thing: massive waste of resources. Billboards use tons of paper and glue – just to be replaced after a few days. Digital billboards eat a lot of electricity and contribute to light pollution. In addition, especially in the wake of a post-growth debate, the human resources claimed by advertising should not be neglected. How much energy and creativity are wasted on constantly developing new advertising campaigns and encouraging consumerism? All the people involved could use their energy in a much more meaningful way.

But a system that relies on growth can not do without raising ever-changing needs. Anyone who campaigns for sufficient consumerism, must therefore constantly work against the overpowering advertising industry – ultimately a Sisyphus task. An outdoor advertising ban, given the variety of advertising opportunities, is certainly only a small step, but it goes in the right direction and sends an important signal. And the debate about it can help sensitize more people to the commercialization of public life and the growth paradigm hidden behind it. Should Berlin be the first European capital to be serious and introduce the “right to freedom of advertisement”, other cities will most likely follow.


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Education for the Postal Growth Society

How can education pave the way to a post-growth society? Globalization, growth orientation, digitization and de-traditionalisation, which has been taking place in our society for decades, are constantly changing their structures: challenges such as demographic change, the undeniable environmental destruction, frequent economic and financial crises, an increase in social inequality and migratory movements are becoming ever more present. Over millennia old handed down knowledge and passed on skills are replaced by highly complex forms of technical achievements as well as the introduction of new media. A resulting increase in the loss of basic survival skills and the power of existence (Marianne Gronemeyer) is palpable. How the future will look like, less and less can be derived from the present or the past.

The “present-day man” is therefore increasingly confronted with the task of designing his own biography without a historical model, in such a way that the human being and the preservation of nature as our livelihood are in the mind and trade focus with the goal of ensuring long-term life. and not primarily economic and social constraints. Then the individual needs to be prepared as part of a large-scale post-growth education initiative. An educational initiative that includes the following building blocks:

This is exactly what is being prepared in the training as a coach for career and lifestyle orientation at the Institute for Youth Work Gauting, in an educational initiative that deals with the following questions:

Building block post-growth economics (PWÖ), PWÖ projects:

  • What does our society look like today? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this form of society?
  • How can one imagine the post-growth economy as an alternative form of economy and life? What makes post-growth economics necessary for survival in our society today? Which values, which ideas are behind this orientation? Which PWÖ projects are there? How are these achievable?

Module change:

  • How should a person behave if a change is to succeed permanently?
  • How can the transition from the post-growth economy as a project to the post-growth economy as a lived everyday life succeed?
  • How can the uncertainties and fears associated with each change be countered?

Component lifestyle and career orientation:

  • How do I want to live? Which lifestyle corresponds to my individual inner and outer rhythms?
  • In which areas can I and would like to declutter, throw off wealth balloons, curb sensory overload and regain time sovereignty?
  • What role should (employment) work play? What other areas should shape my life? How can a holistically coherent post-growth-oriented occupational reorientation on the spectrum from classical gainful employment to self-employment, taking account of livelihood security and sustainability, also succeed in retirement and illness?
  • How does one rediscover skills and talents that make life self-determined?

Building block social interactions:

  • How can I free myself from a growth-, performance-, consumer- and security-oriented, job-market-oriented, self-centered socialization?
  • How can the challenges arising from a consistent change in the direction of the PWÖ be solved on the social interaction level, such as conflicts, exclusion, incomprehension on the part of fellow human beings?

As part of this educational initiative, knowledge about the necessity of a change and possible PWÖ projects will be imparted, upheaval situations will be actively shaped and the associated states of tension will be dissolved.

For this process to succeed, will / will:

  • Asked in depth questions the previous individual components of life,
  • sheds light on which fears and self-esteem issues hinder an inner as well as an external movement towards more individual coherence,
  • via a clear positioning to a decision at the interface: “Do I dare something new?” or “Do I stay in the familiar?”,
  • Through targeted mental, physical and emotional exercises and tasks, concrete steps for implementation are developed, guided and accompanied so that they can be tied to their own resources and the basis for a post-growth-oriented realignment can be created.

The profit:

Those who embark on the educational process outlined recover time sovereignty, lead a lifestyle that corresponds to the individual’s internal as well as external rhythms, restores the connection to nature and rediscovers its basic skills and talents that make it possible to live one’s life self-determined.


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End of growth – work without end?

What does a typical day in 2040 look like??

Will we freely divide our time, what are the needs of ourselves and other people in our community? How about you and me, maybe this week we’re working twenty times instead of thirty in our collective so we can finally fix this wheelchair ramp to the kids shop?

Or is our time schedule dependent on other things? Maybe you’re a nurse, you work in a hospital – in a private, public health care became almost irrelevant ten years ago – and you’re told you’ll need to take half an extra ward this week. You quickly send a cancellation to the volunteer clinic, because you suspect that you can not help out today – there you sometimes work voluntarily to support people who can not afford health treatments …

How self-determined our work is depends on the conditions in which we work, how different forms of work are recognized, and also on what motives we work. The book “End of growth – work without end” deals not only critically with future scenarios for a world of work without economic growth, it dares also to basic questions (what is work?), Makes concrete proposals, such as the concepts of electoral working time and the Commoning , and considers issues such as care work , gender equality, working time (reduction), fair wage culture, basic income, productivity and environmental impact, role of welfare state and alternative modes of production.

The book was edited by Hans Diefenbacher, Benjamin Held and Dorothee Rodenhäuser and was created from the conference of the same name in 2015. It contains contributions from various disciplines, especially economics and sociology. The contributions are diverse – most likely to be summarized as answers to the question: What can work in a world without economic growth look like and what challenges can be expected?

The basic knowledge, which is highlighted in the introduction to the book by Volker Teicher and Hans Diefenbacher, hovers over these questions: they analyze scenarios that focus on changing the world of work through Industry 4.0 and immigration – and conclude that the socio-ecological Aspects do not receive enough attention. Could these changes be used as a chance to design changes in the world of work? Such changes could include anchoring more recognition for care work in the state, as Mascha Madörin points out in her contribution to “Reflections on the Future of Care Work,” or, as proposed by Christine Ax, work based on the concept of “working” to shape craftsmanship – for example, when energy production is decentralized again taken by citizens themselves in the hand. Jürgen Rinderspacher acknowledges with the simplistic conclusion that reductions in working hours are automatically associated with relief for the environment – on the one hand they do not necessarily lead to lower productivity in the industry, because new jobs could easily be created, and on the side of the employees is unclear whether the newly gained time would not be used for polluting activities.

A concrete tool is the electoral working time proposed by Andreas Hoff, with which one could flexibly vary the working time within a certain hourly margin. A vision is also described by Brigitte Kratzwald: She sees in Commoning a mode of production based on need satisfaction and community. Michael Opielka asks how a welfare state without economic growth can organize and finance areas such as culture, health and education and proposes a “transversal” social policy. The term goes back to Nira Yural-Davis and is described by Opielka in a succinct sketch as a policy that takes human rights as a point of reference and promotes personal rather than material growth. It concludes with examples of current post-growth projects, whose employees were interviewed by the AG Postwachstumsgesellschaft (teaching research project at the Goethe University Frankfurt) around Birgit Blättel-Mink, Alexandra Rau and Sarah Schmitz on their experiences. The participating projects did not necessarily define themselves as a post-growth project: they surveyed a coffee collective, physicians who provide voluntary uninsured migrants, a solidary clinic and an ethical bank. It was about how the actors of these projects organize and perform their work – eg. For example, the question of how care work is integrated or how work is designed to promote health. The answers are as varied as the projects studied; The conclusion emphasizes, among other things, the tension between critique of capitalism and the simultaneous necessity to grow as a project in order to be able to survive (and, if necessary, to be able to pay fair wages).

The arguments are conclusive and understandable, even for readers who have no sociological or economic background. When reading, one would occasionally wish that the authors directly respond to problems formulated elsewhere in the book – as a compilation of such diverse contributions to the conference, as a reader one tends to be more inclined to produce references himself. While there are felt to be as many suggestions for this change as challenges and points of discussion are raised, the contributions are upbeat and hope that the work of the future will be oriented toward needs, community and self-determination.


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From the lonely to the common time

Desynchronization as a problem of the service society

Postal growth is not necessarily equivalent to degrowth. Growth should not necessarily be renounced. But in the growth-oriented services society, some circumstances tend to become issues that need to be addressed in new ways today. These circumstances include, according to Hartmut Rosa, temporal desynchronization. Rosa distinguishes different types of temporal desynchronization. Here, however, it is about another form of desynchronization, namely the desynchronisation of life tempi, which is of great importance for the everyday life of humans.

The historical synchronization of life tempi

Before the discussion about desynchronization, a clarification of the concept of synchronization is needed.

By synchronizing tempi of life one can understand the situation that all humans lead the life on the basis of a common temporal model, z. For example, you can go to work during the same period of time and have a break. Historically, the tempi of life in pre-modern agrarian society were already based on a common rhythm, which was determined by nature, for example by changing the seasons. However, the evolution towards industrial society resulted in a different kind of synchronization, since now the fixed, simultaneous working hours gave people a daily structure that took place independently of the rhythm of nature.

In order to increase the productive power and efficiency, the entrepreneurs, especially in the manufacturing sector, wanted to extend working hours as far as possible. U. a. against the exploitation caused by prolonged working hours, the workers turned in their subsequent labor disputes. Against the background of this class struggle, political and economic powers began exercising their right to regulate working time in the first half of the 20th century. After German reunification, the Working Hours Act (ArbZG) plays the most important role. In addition to the adequate limitation of the maximum working time, the ArbZG defines on the one hand the beginning and the end of the working time and on the other hand has an indirect influence on when leisure time can take place. In an industrialized society, the law-bounded limit between work and leisure is considered by most to be a temporal model of lifestyle. The tempi of life are also generally synchronized, since the rest of life around the working time has to be aligned.

In addition to the problems that synchronize the tempi of life, such as the imbalance between working and free time, also the change from the industrial to the service society and the associated desynchronization brings with it challenges.

Today’s desynchronization of life tempi

A characteristic of the service society is the flexibilization of the working time for a part of the employees. As a result, everyday life, which took place in the course of the development of industrial society within a rigid structure, is dissipated. There is less and less a certain period of time that serves purely as a work or leisure time. The validity of a common temporal model becomes increasingly weaker with the rise of the service society. I’m going to work now, but my friends may just go to bed; One day I finally get out while my family members have to work or go to school. Even if I finally have a period with my partner for dinner, the meal may be interrupted from time to time by the smartphone. At dinner we sit facing each other, but our souls are not in sync then. We miss more and more often; So the tempi of life are increasingly asynchronous.

This can have serious repercussions on people’s well-being, for example by undermining time with their partner, friend or family member, because there are so few shared periods of free time available. While in the industrial society it was still necessary to fight for one’s own time – time for ourselves, which can also be spent with friends and family members – in the service society it is often a problem that the own time is often not with friends or the family can be shared.

Time coordination as a task for the post-growth society

Against this background, it would be a task in the post-growth-oriented society to coordinate different life tempi in such a way that the quality of life of the people is positively influenced. We no longer just need own time, but common time. This task therefore refers to time coordination. If I want to spend time together with my family (eg a family vacation), I can not just passively wait for holidays, but I and my family members have to actively plan our time together. Maybe I need the colleagues who want to step in for me. As a result, horizontal coordination between the individuals involved plays an important role in overcoming the desynchronization problem of the service society.

However, the coordination of working hours often entails a problem of justice. For example, employee participation on the beginning and end of daily working hours today takes place mainly in a negotiation process between the works council and the employer. In companies without a works council, however, the employer often has the option of setting working hours within the framework of legal regulations alone. In addition, working hours are becoming harder to limit or define due to the tendency towards flexibilisation. Perhaps every worker should be given the right in the future to have a say in the definition and the laying down of working time. In other words, the right to codetermine working time should be considered a basic and individualized labor law in the future. How to realize such a right is, of course, a complicated question. But it pays off to think about this question on the way to the post-growth society.


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