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The Contribution of BRICS to the Quality of Global Development

Marco Ricceri

Abstract

This study explores the BRICS platform, composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. It discusses its vision and principles, as well as its objectives. I also present a selection of particularly significant and emblematic programs of activities. A core question is how its members will realize their main objective, to contribute to the quality of global development. And how do they relate their objective to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations? Aspects of the current framework of the social quality approach (SQA) will be applied in order to deepen this exploration. In the context of this study, it is relevant to cite the decisions by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences to assist the elaboration and dissemination of the SQA.

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Editorial

Laurent J.G. van der Maesen

This issue is dedicated to two general topics that play a central role in social quality thinking and its policy application. The first is how to sharpen the social quality approach (SQA) as an intellectual instrument to understand the nature and rationale of political/legal, economic, cultural, and environmental processes in societies that aim to cope with their interpretations of mainstream contemporary challenges. The distinction between these processes concerns the main subject of the procedural framework of the SQA (IASQ 2019). The second is how to use social quality indicators for conceiving of the consequences of these processes in communities and cities. This concerns a main subject of the analytical framework of SQA. The connection of these main themes of the SQA is increasingly becoming the crucial challenge for, in particular, the theoretical reflection on thinking and acting for the increase of social quality in communities, cities, and countries. Instead of old and new ideas about individual happiness, the crucial challenge is inspired by ideas about “a good society,” as discussed by antique Greek philosophers.

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Public Evaluation of Society in China

The Social Quality Approach

Ren Liying and Zou Yuchin

Abstract

This study employs the social quality approach to analyze public evaluation of society in China based on the data of the 2017 Chinese Social Survey. It includes both objective and subjective survey indicators of the conditional factors of social quality, namely, socioeconomic security, social cohesion, social inclusion, and social empowerment, as independent variables. Regression results reveal most of these indicators are significantly related to the overall evaluation of society though with different explanatory power. This study not only helps understand how Chinese people evaluate their society but also calls attention to further improve social quality indicator system.

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Social Quality in a Transitive Society

The Role of the State

Valeriy Heyets

Abstract

Nearly 30 years of transformation of the sociopolitical and legal, socioeconomical and financial, sociocultural and welfare, and socioenvironmental dimensions in both Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, has led to a change of the social quality of daily circumstances. On the one hand, the interconnection and reciprocity of these four relevant dimensions of societal life is the underlying cause of such changes, and on the other, the state as main actor of the sociopolitical and legal dimension is the initiator of those changes. Applying the social quality approach, I will reflect in this article on the consequences of these changes, especially in Ukraine. In comparison, the dominant Western interpretation of the “welfare state” will also be discussed.

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Social Quality Measurement and Perceived Social Quality

The Case of Peshawar, Pakistan

Muhammad Yasir Ali and Ka Lin

Abstract

This study investigates the difference between the maps of social quality and perceived social quality. Using survey data collected from Peshawar, a prominent city in Pakistan, we compare the general and the perceived maps of social quality drawn from survey respondents based on their stands of income, education, age, and gender. With this comparison, the study conducts the regression analysis about the data to reveal the relations between these factors and draw some policy implications. The analysis contrasting objective and subjective visions of the social quality map may support a constructionist view on social quality and, more essentially, bring our view into the diversity of the perceived maps of social quality in reference to the interests of different social groups in society.

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Addressing Marine Plastic Pollution

The Plastic Soup Foundation and the Four-Dimensional Application of the Social Quality Approach

Laurent J. G. van der Maesen

Plastic pollution has become a pressing environmental problem. An increasing mass of plastic products ends up in oceans and landfills. One international grassroots organization—the Plastic Soup Foundation (PSF)—tries to influence politics and policies of governments and businesses that can be held responsible for this pollution. In Michiel Roscam Abbing’s recent book Plastic Soup Atlas of the World, the current problematique of plastic pollution is presented from a broad perspective and in a highly accessible way. This article’s main objective is to investigate, first, what can be learned from the PSF’s history and context and, second, whether this knowledge can deliver points of departure for enhancing the social quality approach to become functional for addressing environmental questions from the perspective of societal changes.

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Editorial

Social Quality, Environmental Challenges, and Indicators

Laurent J. G. van der Maesen

The first three articles of this issue are dedicated to aspects of the current debate about and the praxis of environmental questions, and thus of the ecosystems. The fourth article concerns the application of social quality indicators in China. The gaining hypothesis is that a disconnection of the social quality approach of daily circumstances in Japan, Russia, China, Europe, the Americas, Africa, or India from environmental processes results into anachronisms. Without a global consciousness of the unequal consequences of these environmental processes, people in rich countries may be tempted to positively judge the nature of the social quality of their localities or country “as such.” Unknown remains that, seen from a global perspective, macrodetermined reasons for the positive outcomes in rich countries may go at the expense of ecosystems. They may cause, also because of the exportation of substantial elements of problematic (and partly environmental) aspects of the dominant production and reproduction relationships, serious forms of exploitation. Under the same conditions (ceteris paribus), this attack on ecosystems, as well as this exportation and exploitation cause increasingly declining social quality of daily circumstances in poor countries and regions. This will also result into an increase of “climate refugees.” Because of advancing technologically driven transformations—especially regarding communications systems—the interdependencies of countries between the West and the East, as well as between the North and the South, accelerate. Autarkic situations are becoming, or have already been for a long time, a myth.

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From Paris to Poland

A Postmortem of the Climate Change Negotiations

Tim Cadman, Klaus Radunsky, Andrea Simonelli, and Tek Maraseni

This article tracks the intergovernmental negotiations aimed at combatting human-induced greenhouse gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change from COP21 and the creation of the Paris Agreement in 2015 to COP24 in Katowice, Poland in 2018. These conferences are explored in detail, focusing on the Paris Rulebook negotiations around how to implement market- and nonmarket-based approaches to mitigating climate change, as set out in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, and the tensions regarding the inclusion of negotiating text safeguarding human rights. A concluding section comments on the collapse of Article 6 discussions and the implications for climate justice and social quality for the Paris Agreement going forward.

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Greening British Businesses

SMEs and the New Wave of the Environmental Social Movement

Curtis Ziniel and Tony Bradley

This article examines relationships between a new wave of radical green activism and an increase in greening businesses in Britain. We examine the spread of the movement through the formation of businesses implementing more environmentally sustainable practices. Our empirical data, combined with Office for National Statistics data, are drawn from both the supply and the demand side of the economy. Our analysis tests key individual-level determinants (education, energy conscientiousness, localism) and area-level determinants (party politics, population density). Our findings indicate the main factors in determining the growth of the ethical marketplace. We draw conclusions about relationships between environmental social movements and SME business sectors. Our results have implications for research on ethical business development and consumerism and for literature on social movements and political geography.

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Social Quality of China

Indicators, Reality, and Problems

Li Wei and Cui Yan

China has entered a new phase of development. Living standards have significantly improved as the economy grows. Socioeconomic security, social cohesion, social inclusion, and social empowerment have all strengthened, but the social quality level is not quite satisfactory. First, many think the low “social security” cannot provide sufficient protection. Second, low social trust and lack of social belief and value system greatly affect social cohesion. Third, to cope with social discrimination and realize better tolerance, social inclusion must be addressed. People have the strongest sense of unfairness for wealth and income gaps as well as right and entitlement differences between urban and rural areas. In addition, low political efficacy and low levels of social and political participation indicate weak social empowerment in China.