This website documents the writings of Dr Samuel Alexander. I am a lecturer at the University of Melbourne, Australia, teaching a course called ‘Consumerism and the Growth Economy: Critical Interdisciplinary Perspectives.’ I am also co-director of the Simplicity Institute and a research fellow with the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute.
My research focuses on the economic, political and cultural implications of living on a full planet in an age of limits. How can seven-and-a-half billion people flourish without degrading our common planet? What might ‘one planet’ living look like? And can we come together to build resilient, localised economies as globalised, carbon capitalism continues to self-destruct?
No doubt challenging times lie ahead for our species – deeper crises seem inevitable, from a range of ecological, economic, political and cultural perspectives. That being so, my work attempts to understand how to negotiate those crises as wisely as possible – turning crisis into opportunity – which I argue means prefiguring new, post-consumerist ways of living and being that are compatible with justice and sustainability. Embracing an economics of sufficiency is necessary to this endeavour, which has both cultural and systemic dimensions. Lifestyle change alone is far from enough.
In examining these questions I address issues such as degrowth, permaculture, voluntary simplicity, eco-socialism, ‘grassroots’ theories of transition, and the relationship between culture and political economy. I have also written on peak oil and the economic implications of energy descent. My current research is exploring an ‘aesthetics of degrowth’, based on The Dark Cellars Project which I am curating.
I created this website to provide an overview of my work and provide links to most of my articles, research papers, and books. A full list of publications (with links) is available here and I discuss the themes of my work here (with links).
In 2015 I published two books of my collected essays, first, Prosperous Descent: Crisis as Opportunity in an Age of Limits, and second, Sufficiency Economy: Enough, for Everyone, Forever. The best place to begin reading my work would be the introductions to these books, as they provide an overview of my thinking as well as chapter summaries of the entire books.
- ‘Introduction’ to Prosperous Descent is available here.
- ‘Introduction’ to Sufficiency Economy is available here.
Readers new to my work may also like to begin with some short articles and interviews that summarise key themes in my scholarship.
- Life in a ‘degrowth’ economy, and why you might actually enjoy it
- Limits to growth: policies to steer the economy away from disaster
- The ‘green-tech’ future is a flawed vision of sustainability
- If everyone lived in an ecovillage, the Earth would still be in trouble
- Sick to death of consumerism? Find freedom in a tiny house
- We need economic ‘degrowth’ to stop a carbon budget blowout
- The hour is darkest just before dawn
- Can a ‘green growth’ strategy solve climate change? (interview)
- Degrowth, sustainability, and tackling global inequalities (interview)
I have published seven books in recent years. They are listed below (both paperback and pdf) with summaries of the books here.
- Just Enough is Plenty: Thoreau’s Alternative Economics (2016) – paperback / pdf
- Deface the Currency: The Lost Dialogues of Diogenes (2016) – paperback / pdf
- Prosperous Descent: Crisis as Opportunity in an Age of Limits (2015) – paperback / pdf
- Sufficiency Economy: Enough, for Everyone, Forever (2015) – paperback / pdf
- Simple Living in History: Pioneers of the Deep Future (2014) – paperback
- Entropia: Life Beyond Industrial Civilisation (2013) – paperback / pdf / Kindle
- Voluntary Simplicity: The Poetic Alternative to Consumer Culture (2009) – paperback
Select Research Papers or Books Chapters
Below I have listed a few research papers which illustrate some of the key themes and perspectives I explore in my research.
- Sufficiency Economy: Envisioning a Prosperous Descent
- Policies for a Post-Growth Economy
- Voluntary Simplification as an Alternative to Collapse
- A Critique of Techno-Optimism: Efficiency without Sufficiency is Lost
- Voluntary Simplicity as an Aesthetics of Existence: Ethics in a Consumer Age
- Wild Democracy: A Biodiversity of Resistance and Renewal
- Prosperous Descent: Telling New Stories as the Old Book Closes
- Post-Growth Economics: A Paradigm Shift in Progress
- Voluntary Simplicity and the Social Reconstruction of Law: Degrowth from the Grassroots Up
Documentary – ‘A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity’
If you would prefer a visual introduction to the ideas and perspectives I discuss, see the documentary, A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity, which I co-produced with Jordan Osmond of Happen Films in 2016. It’s had almost half a million views in the first few months online.