Call for Papers: Cost of Living and Inequality in an Age of Shocks

The next issue of the Green European Journal will address an urgent issue facing societies everywhere: the rising cost of living. Increases in the prices of essentials – from housing to food to energy – are driving up poverty and precarity, with people on low and medium incomes the worst affected. This issue will look to understand the rising cost of living, explore proposals and solutions, and analyse the stakes of the urgent green transition in this difficult context.

In June 2022, annual inflation in the Euro area was estimated at 8.6 per cent, an all-time high. The rise took off in late 2020, as disruption to oil markets, food production, and supply chains and the effects of the pandemic swirled together. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 aggravated the situation by driving up the cost of energy and foodstuffs. Inflation’s return follows a decade of central banks pursuing quantitative easing, flooding the financial system with cash to stave off a repeat of 2008. Amid many contributing factors, how should we understand the current price rises? Far from an academic question, explaining why essential goods and services are getting more expensive is a political battle that will go on to shape the response.

The costs of living are felt by all but especially the most vulnerable. Food is more expensive, the energy required to heat and cool homes is up, pay packets and savings lose their value, and transport costs are rising. Other essentials, particularly housing and childcare, are also out of reach for many people – their unaffordability not necessarily caused by recent events but no less urgent.

Whether older people and heating costs, mothers and childcare costs, or people living outside of big cities and petrol prices, certain groups are disproportionately affected. Different European countries and regions also feel the stresses to differing extents, though the trend is the same. In Europe as well as the Global South, food prices risk driving people into hunger. What divides and inequalities are exposed, reinforced and created at this moment? The politics of inflation were key to the social struggles of the 1970s and 1980s, what will they look like in the 2020s?

Climate impacts and the energy transition are inseparable from the current economic turmoil. Changing weather patterns from droughts to heat waves affect energy and food production. Meanwhile, reducing emissions means taking certain forms of energy production offline. The concept of “greenflation” has emerged to explain price rises linked to the energy transition. That transition will have winners and losers, throwing up distributional conflicts that overlap with the question of who bears the cost of inflation. For political ecology, these major questions demand short-term solutions as well as visions for protecting living standards and sufficiency for the years ahead.

The neoliberal era began as Western economies grappled with the fallout of the oil crises of the 1970s. In the 2020s, not only is that era coming to a close, but a 200-year-old development model based on abundant fossil fuel energy is also at the end of the road.

Working through this material change is a colossal challenge, but within it may lie opportunities to rethink a socio-economic model that has increased inequalities while destabilising our climate and environment. Reckoning with this shift calls for new answers, political leadership, and a vision for the role of the state that offers a way through.

Approach

What would you like to write about? Here are some ideas:

  • Cost of living crisis and its effects, particularly with respect to food, housing, energy, and transport
  • Proposals, solutions and examples for protecting living standards and social welfare while making progress on the green transition
  • Connections between economic turmoil and climate impacts, the green transition and ecological crisis more generally
  • Reflections, critiques and alternative ways of thinking about the “cost of living”
  • New divides and inequalities within and between societies thrown up by price rises
  • Climate and environmental inequalities in the context of the green transition
  • Analysis of the relationship between wages, profits and the political economy of inflation
  • Political and social developments linked to inflation and/or the energy transition
  • Global causes and effects of price rises, from geopolitical tensions and the war in Ukraine to the impact on the Global South
  • The role of green politics and proposals and visions for the role of the state all the local, national and European levels in the 2020s

Editorial requirements

We do not just want theoretical or academic articles for this issue of the Green European Journal. We are looking for all kinds of texts that stimulate debate, reflection, and imagination. We are open to formats such as interviews, photo essays, infographics, and comics. All contributions that take a fresh approach to understanding the questions set out in this call are welcome.

Pitches should be sent to jamie.kendrick@gef.eu and beatrice.white@gef.eu.

The Green European Journal strives to be an inclusive space, bringing together a diverse range of voices and perspectives. We welcome contributions from everyone. Contributions from those belonging to the following groups are especially encouraged: women, people of colour, people with a physical or mental disability, LGBTQI+ individuals, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Contributions from southern and eastern Europe and from outside the European Union are particularly welcome.

If you would like to make a submission but require some support to do so, we invite you to contact us directly. Send us a summary of your proposed contribution and introduce yourself before submitting a draft. We’re happy for contributors to write in a language of their choosing. Before contacting us, check our editorial guidelines carefully. Submissions may be published in print or online.

The deadline for pitches and ideas is 25th August 2022.

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