First Advisor

Julius McGee

Date of Publication

Spring 6-17-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology






Negative growth (Economics), Clothing trade -- Environmental aspects, Consumers -- Psychology, Sustainable living, Clothing and dress -- Maintenance and repair, Secondhand trade



Physical Description

1 online resource (iii, 62 pages)


In a capitalist system demanding perpetual accumulation, producers invest significant resources into proving the superiority of new products over existing ones. When the normative concept is "better" rather than "good" consumers can never reach a sense of sufficiency. One countermovement is that of degrowth. Degrowth scholars advocate for a voluntary and democratic transition to a post-growth future. This thesis contributes to the emerging literature on degrowth by examining alternatives to "fast fashion," an industry with a huge environmental impact and notoriously high turnover. Drawing on participant observation and semi-structured interviews with participants in Portland, Oregon's clothing swaps and Repair Cafés, which are free, volunteer-run repair pop-ups, this paper brings citizens' understandings of their engagement with fashion into the degrowth framework. It asks the following research questions: How do participants in RepairPDX and clothing swaps conceptualize their participation? To what extent do these understandings align with the ideals of degrowth and decommodification? I discuss the themes of expense, pleasure and community, and consumption and waste, and argue that mending and swapping are decommodified practices that run counter to capitalist market society, maximizing autonomy and equality, and minimizing the market's tendencies towards environmental degradation. This study addresses gaps in the literatures on mending, alternative consumption, post-purchase consumer practice, and contributes to the growing body of degrowth literature.


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Persistent Identifier

Included in

Sociology Commons