De-growth approaches in a pro-growth-oriented shrinking city. An oxymoron or inevitable future path?


  • Ondřej Slach University of Ostrava
  • Vojtěch Bosák University of Ostrava
  • Lucia Hýllová University of Ostrava
  • Lenka Paszová University of Ostrava
  • Alexandr Nováček University of Ostrava
  • Kateřina Skudříková


de-growth, shrinkage, urban planning, Discourse Analysis




The growth orientation of decision-makers has been considered one of the main hindrances to sustainable transition. This contribution aims to reveal obstacles, which are limiting de-growth approaches in the studied case. In the end, de-contextualized implications for the research agenda on the nexus between urban shrinkage and de-growth are derived. The city of Ostrava provides an interesting case study for such research since the problems caused by shrinkage are known to decision-makers, but ignored, and existing responses to urban shrinkage are purely pro-growth oriented, which causes long-term problems for a sustainable transition. Specifically, we focus on existing discourse as a crucial medium in ignoring de-growth approaches. For our study of this object, a mix of methods including content analysis of policy documents from various scales and discourse analysis of semi-structured interviews with local stakeholders is employed. In this paper, we apply a poststructuralist approach to discourse analysis, known by the acronym WPR (Bacchi and Goodwin, 2016). It has been documented that in the existing paradigm in urban policy and planning, pro-growth approaches are naturalized, while approaches that disrupt the existing paradigm are tabooed (Grossmann et al., 2022). In this context, the WPR approach paying attention to assumptions and unexamined ways of thinking about policy problems represents an advantage over other approaches to discourse analysis as it provides an opportunity to unpack the inner workings of the pro-growth paradigm and opening it up for contestation. In the conclusion, a more nuanced understanding of the nature and reasons causing the neglect of de-growth approaches in Ostrava and beyond is presented.


Bacchi, C. and Goodwin, S. (2016). Poststructural policy analysis: A guide to practice. New York, NY: Springer Nature.

Grossmann, K., Connolly, J. J., Dereniowska, M., Mattioli, G., Nitschke, L., Thomas, N. and Varo, A. (2022). From sustainable development to social-ecological justice: Addressing taboos and naturalizations in order to shift perspective. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 5(3), 1405-1427.