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Housekeeping Against Accumulation: Lifestyle Minimalism, De-Growth and the...

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University of York

Wentworth W/222

Heslington

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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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.

Miriam Meissner is Assistant Professor in Urban Studies at Maastricht University, having previously worked as lecturer at Lancaster University. Her work is concerned with connecting social sciences and humanities concepts and approaches, exploring the interrelation between cities, creativity, political economy and the environment. Recent work has examined how urban social, media and cultural practices re-mediate and politicize global risks of finance and ecology. Her 2017 book is titled Narrating the Global Financial Crisis: Urban Imaginaries and the Politics of Myth (Palgrave Macmillan).

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University of York

Wentworth W/222

Heslington

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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