Transformation for the Whole of Society? The Inclusion of Marginalised Voices in the Debates about the Ecological Transformation

Transformation movements risk not adequately addressing the pressing social problems of our time. How can we make sure that those who have only been talked about are being heard?

To bring about a successful transformation of society, the goals of social justice and sustainability must not be understood as competing but as interlocking. Nevertheless, social inequality still seems to be a blind spot in transformation research. If the demographic composition of transformation movements is considered, it becomes clear that they consist mainly of educated and well-off people. It is questionable whether a small, privileged group can develop concepts and ideas for a sustainable and socially just future for an entire society. The concerns, hopes, and ideas of marginalised people hardly find their way into debates on socio-ecological transformation. It is the aim of this project  to explore how people, regardless of their origin and educational background, income, or social status, can help shape a socio-ecological transformation and be involved in concrete transformative projects.
The following questions will be addressed:

Environmental activists call citizens to action and describe how each individual can change their lifestyle to save the planet. But who is it that is being appealed to, who is speaking, and whose voices and realities of life are being emphasised or ignored?

How do people living in difficult socio-economic conditions define a good and sustainable life for all?

To find answers to the questions above, exemplary transformative projects are going to be selected and examined. Through semi-structured interviews, both with active members and with people underrepresented in the projects, the aim is to discover how an ecological transformation can be made more inclusive and socially just.

Katharina Karrenbauer is a Ph.D. student at the Rachel Carson Center, LMU Munich. Contact: