Brexit, Sustainability, Economics, Companies’ Responsibilities, and Current Representations
Humanosphere Potentiality Index
Appraising Existing Indicators from a Long-term Perspective
Takahiro Sato, Mario Ivan López, Taizo Wada, Shiro Sato, Makoto Nishi, and Kazuo Watanabe
This research presents the Humanosphere Potentiality Index (HPI), developed to address current global potentiality from a long-term perspective. The HPI presents a different way to envision the current condition of the world, one that is compatible with a strong sustainability paradigm approach and demonstrates the significance of tropical countries for global sustainability. A comparison between HPI and the Human Development Index (HDI) reveals a dominant developmental paradigm that justifies the HDI perspective, and comparisons between HPI and four popular environmental indicators provide insights into how human society should engage with the natural environment. This research argues that the worldview from HPI presents a perspective that asks us to pay more attention not only to development but also to global potentiality from a long-term perspective.
The 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris (COP21), December 2015, reached a consensus to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, including by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change” (UN 2015: 22). The agreement has to pave the way for rules, modalities, and procedures and all Parties have to “recognize the importance of integrated, holistic and balanced non-market approaches being available to Parties to assist in the implementation of their nationally determined contribution, in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, in a coordinated and effective manner, including through, inter alia, mitigation adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building, as appropriate” (UN 2015: 24). Of interest to note is that sustainable development and poverty eradication seem to be presented as two sides of the same coin.
Theorizing the Social
According to Leisering in his editorial in this journal, the idea of the “social” not only concerns social services as found in textbooks on social policy, it also “reflects a culturally entrenched notion of the relationship between state and society – a recognition of the tension between the ideal of political equality and socio-economic inequality, and of a collective responsibility by the state for identifying and redressing social problems” (Leisering 2013: 12). Theorizing “social quality” began in Europe at the end of the 1990s, in reaction to the increasing tendency to reduce the European Union’s operation to an “economic project.” In an ideological sense this reduction was legitimated by decoupling the economic dimension from the socio-political and sociocultural dimensions and leaving the latter two to the authority of the EU member states. The presupposition on the part of neoclassical economics and mainstream political and sociological studies of a duality between “the economic” and “the social” paved the way for this move. Therefore social quality scholars started to theorise ‘the social’ anew to go beyond the duality of the economic and the social In practice, nation-based policies became subordinated to the European-oriented financial and economic politics and policies that were being used to address the globalization of production and reproduction relationships (Beck et al. 1997). This shift became seriously strengthened by the revolutionary development and application of new communication technologies.
The ambitions of this journal include the goal of stimulating a debate about the similarities and differences between various approaches dedicated to current major societal challenges. As well as social quality thinking, the human security approach and the related human development/capability approach aim to understand changes in daily circumstances and to contribute in one or another way to new politics and policies. General questions regarding all these approaches include: What is the scientific quality of their conceptual framework? Which instruments do they apply to analyze changes in people’s daily circumstances? To what policies do they contribute in order to further their normative ideals? What are those ideals? Answers to these questions will help one recognise the similarities of and differences between the approaches and what they can offer each other.
This issue of the International Journal of Social Quality looks at the socio-political and socio-cultural dimensions of sustainability in social quality analysis. Some articles refer to the notion of sustainability, which stimulates transformative changes in society, and the consequences for the explicit or implicit integration with the sociopolitical dimension and the environmental dimension, as well as for the well-being of people all over the world, thus the socio-cultural dimension. Two interesting questions are, first, how can new forms of public participation and democratic practices and policies to stimulate environmental protection be developed, transforming the socio-political and legal context in order to contribute to the development of overall sustainability? Second, how can community involvement and new communication technologies be stimulated, which can be productive for the adequate transformation of the socio-cultural and welfare dimensions? Both issues were addressed in the Aarhus Convention of 1998, which highlighted information on environmental matters as a key right for citizens and a condition for effective public participation in decision-making processes. The concept of “social empowerment” connects the dimensions and – with reference to the four normative factors of social quality as well – delivers arguments for changing the dominant production, distribution and consumption systems and patterns.
The Global Career of an Idea
This special issue assembles contributions from the global North and South to inquire into the future of the “social” from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on sociology, political science and law. What does “social” mean, and do social policy and the welfare state have a future in a global age? The issue is published on the occasion of the eightieth birthday of Franz-Xaver Kaufmann, who is considered the doyen of the sociology of social policy in Germany (see his recent books, translated into English, Kaufmann 2012, 2013a, 2013b).
For a decade, the issue of sustainable development has been highlighted in international social policy debates and development studies. In order to ensure and increase the level of social quality, various societies struggle to achieve sustainable growth, with different policy measures in dissimilar circumstances of policy making. For some societies, including the European states, to ensure sustainability of welfare state systems is the primary task of government (especially after the financial crisis in the late 2000s), and in other cases, such as in Russia and the Southeast Asian states, economic growth (accompanied by sustainability, as is hoped) is the main concern. Several key issues are involved in this, such as sustainable economic growth, welfare finance, environmental policy and overall sustainability of society. The articles included in this issue of IJSQ touch on different aspects of the “sustainable growth” issue.
Samantha B. Meyer, Paul R. Ward, and Raymond K. H. Chan
It gives us great pleasure to introduce this special issue of the International Journal of Social Quality. This special issue features empirical papers from Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Thailand. The data presented in this special issue originate from a large cross-cultural research project investigating social quality across six Asia-Pacific societies: Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.