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Julien Vastenaekels defended his PhD thesis: "Degrowth and Capital: Assembling a Power-Centred Theory of Change"

Published on September 21, 2023 Updated on September 21, 2023

On September 6, Julien Vastenaekels successfully defended his PhD thesis in Sciences.

We are delighted to announce that on 6 September, Julien Vastenaekels, a member of our SONYA research unit, successfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled 'Degrowth and Capital: Assembling a Power-Centred Theory of Change'. Supervised by Professor Tom Bauler, this important research delves into the heart of contemporary debates on degrowth and the dynamics of capital.

In an era of socio-environmental challenges, degrowth is presented as a path to transformation towards a more equitable society that respects the limits of our planet. To better understand how this transformation could unfold, Julien has undertaken an in-depth study of the dynamics between degrowth transformations and the accumulation of capital, seen as a process of power shaping society.

Positioned within degrowth studies, Julien's research moves beyond the traditional divide between economics and politics to illuminate the capacities of dominant capitalist groups to 'sabotage' efforts at transformation. Degrowth is then theorised as a confrontation between different modes of transformation and modes of sabotage.

Through a processual, holistic and interdisciplinary approach, Julien assembles a power-centred theory of change, and explores four scenarios of possible futures. Ultimately, this work offers valuable insights into the ways in which degrowth could unfold - or not - from within our capitalist societies.

The jury that assessed this research was made up of Edwin Zaccai (ULB), Bonno Pel (ULB), Tom Bauler (ULB), Maria Mancilla Garcia (ULB), Eloi Laurent (Sciences Po Paris), and Franck-Dominique Vivien (Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne).

A PDF copy of the thesis is available on request from julien.vastenaekels@ulb.be.

We warmly congratulate Julien on this major achievement!

on the September 20, 2023