Diversifying and de-growing the circular economy: Radical social transformation in a resource-scarce world

"Programmes and policies for a Circular Economy (CE) are fast becoming key to regional and international plans for creating sustainable futures. Framed as a technologically driven and economically profitable vision of continued growth in a resource scarce world, the CE has of late been taken up by the European Commission and global business leaders alike. However, within CE debates and documentation, little is said about the social and political implications of such transformative agendas. Whilst CE proponents claim their agenda is ‘radical’, this paper outlines its inability to address many deeply embedded challenges around issues of consumption and the consumer, echoing as it does the problematic (and arguably failed) agendas of sustainable consumption/lifestyles. Using the Sharing Economy as an example, we argue here that the ontological and sociological assumptions of the CE must be open to more ‘radical’ critique and reconsideration if this agenda is to deliver the profound transformations that its advocates claim are within our collective reach." (p. 15)


Scientific article

Author names: 

Kersty Hobson, Nicholas Lynch

Length (pp): 

11 (pp. 15-25)




Cardiff University, The University of Oxford

Type of evidence: 


Policy changes: 

Expected changes of economic processes: 

Indirect effects on the economy: 

Environmental impacts: 

Economic impacts: 

Social impacts: 

Time frame for impacts to materialize: 

Enabling factors: 

Administrative level: 

Method of valuation: 

Excel ID: