Learning from Barcelona’s grassroots housing struggles:

towards a transformational Degrowth agenda

Aeve Ribbons

Published in Issue 5.1 // The Long Read

Keywords: Housing, degrowth, social movements, social justice, class politics


This article contributes to the nascent literature on housing for Degrowth. It recognises that housing plays a pivotal role in the creation and perpetuation of socio-ecological injustices, and therefore must be a core strategic element of a transition towards a Degrowth society.  I argue for a deeper integration of bottom-up, scalable strategies and class politics in Degrowth housing proposals in order to create the widespread and emancipatory social transformation called for by the Degrowth agenda. The militant research for this paper was rooted in a case study of the Sindicat d’Habitatge de Vallcarca (Vallcarca Housing Union; SHV), which is part of Barcelona’s multifaceted grassroots movement for housing justice. The analysis first explores the synergies between Degrowth and the SHV using a Degrowth framework, and then looks beyond this framework, asking what both movements can learn from each other’s theoretical and strategic approaches. It highlights the SHV’s grassroots, class-based politics of solidarity and social inclusivity, and explores how the SHV could benefit from engaging with the ecological and intersectional politics of Degrowth. The article raises the importance of building connections between post-growth theories and radical housing struggles on a broader scale, in order to tackle top-down and growth-based ‘sustainable housing’ initiatives and create genuinely transformational and emancipatory housing alternatives.


Aeve Ribbons works in the Johns Hopkins University-Universitat Pompeu Fabra Public Policy Center in Barcelona, Spain. She has a masters degree in Political Ecology, Degrowth and Environmental Justice from the Universitat Autònoma de
Barcelona, and has been active in grassroots movements for social and environmental justice in Barcelona and in Manchester, UK.

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