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.
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 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.
most complicated challenge of humankind—namely, the sustainability of their living conditions on earth—to the question of how to restrict carbon dioxide emissions and related forms of pollution with the help of new energy production technologies. This
Laurent J.G. van der Maesen
necessary at every level of government. ( UN-Habitat 2016: i ) In order to look for new ideas as alternatives for the unruled processes of urbanization, Motta discusses the chances of minor cities and towns to flourish. Thanks to new technologies, new
The Evolution of 20 Years of Social Quality Thinking
processes in the three fields. According to Ruchir Sharma (2018) , technology (based on ICT) will decide which country emerges as the world’s dominant economic power in the long run: “While about 20 percent of per capita gross domestic product growth is
Jaap Westbroek, Harry Nijhuis, and Laurent van der Maesen
scientists is to place the acquisition of relevant knowledge at the very top of their research priorities. Today, this challenge is seriously complicated by the greater evolution of technologies. Nevertheless, Laszlo makes a strong plea to scientists that
Laurent J.G. van der Maesen
technologies under control of actors and agencies of the sociopolitical/legal dimension are desired to reduce global temperatures (see Radunsky and Cadman, this issue). The rationale is to supplement to the relatively restricted attention of governments on the
Brexit, Sustainability, Economics, Companies’ Responsibilities, and Current Representations
renewables and maintaining materials within the production cycle … a new growth model has been taking shape mainly in Europe … green technology capability is one of Europe’s outstanding competitive advantages as highlighted by the 2016 European Semester
Appraising Existing Indicators from a Long-term Perspective
Takahiro Sato, Mario Ivan López, Taizo Wada, Shiro Sato, Makoto Nishi, and Kazuo Watanabe
agriculturally self-sustaining until the convergence of scientific knowledge coupled with capitalist economic growth-oriented production. These convergences triggered the development of new technologies to extract fossil energy, technological innovations in