The institutionalization of sustainability agendas on the local and global levels has largely failed to deliver the promised change. In this essay, we develop the idea of sustainability metamorphosis as a way to break with the pathological paradigm of sustainable development that weakens society’s capacity to transform in the face of global crises. Sustainability metamorphosis, in our understanding, draws on the Bakthian perspective of carnivalization and dialogical truth. In this sense, sustainability metamorphosis is an outlook on change in society and a source of strategies for long-term societal change. Our understanding of metamorphosis is inspired by the historical and literary understandings that saw ungraspable forces, acting upon both inner and outer worlds, and suspended hierarchies as the sources of necessary but inconvenient change.
An Inconvenient Change
Erland Mårald and Janina Priebe
This article examines the extent to which the concept of social quality could contribute to a transformation in the debates about the welfare sustainability in Asia and Europe. The article starts by outlining the concept of social quality: its constitutional, conditional and normative components and the origins of its development as a European conceptual framework. Then a bridge is created between Europe and Asia by looking briefly at the similarities and differences between social quality and human security, a concept that is more familiar in the latter region than the former one. is is followed by a critique of the global discourses on 'sustainability' and, in particular, their dominance by economism. The final part of the article utilizes the concept of social quality to propose a more open and balanced approach to sustainability that brings in social and ecological considerations alongside economic ones. Some tentative suggestions are made concerning the operationalisation of a social quality approach to welfare system sustainability
New Theoretical and Methodological Challenges
Laurent J.G. van der Maesen
This article reviews the development of social quality indicators and the challenges ahead. First, through a review of recent Asian and Australian work carried out on social quality indicators, and the World Bank related work on “social development indicators,” the article argues that social quality indicators research should move beyond the empirical level of particular policy areas. Therefore, it should be guided by a clear methodological perspective regarding the role of indicators as part of a social quality theory (SQT) and their relation to the social quality approach (SQA). Second, the article opens a debate about the rationale behind distinguishing between three different functions of social quality indicators. Indicators should address the change in the conditional factors in daily life, as manifested in its economic, socio-political, socio-cultural and environmental dimensions, in order to examine the consequences of general trends and contradictions in (1) societal circumstances, (2) the development (or lack of development) toward sustainability, and (3) the related issue of sustainable urban development. Before 2010 social quality scholars mainly concentrated on the first issue. Recently, however, they are approaching all three issues. It is essential to delve deeper into SQT and the SQA for understanding these three issues separately and integrally. This has implications for the nature of social quality indicators and their comparison to those of other mainstream approaches; the article introduces this agenda of work.
This article discusses how agency is emergent from the asymmetrical power interactions of multiple social actors and organizations. Agency, contingent and relational, is creative even when interpreted by people as unsuccessful. I employ ethnographic research from within a local authority sustainability team who were threatened with redundancy because of funding cuts imposed during the implementation of British Prime Minister David Cameron's Big Society project. In order to manage their situation, possible futures had to be re-imagined and appropriately contained through processes of self-assessment and self-management. The ability to enable self-directing action was often evident but was frequently interpreted by people as unsuccessful. This stemmed from misrecognition, scarcity and the lack of capacity to bring about full and substantial changes. Both the sustainability team and their work emerge from this process reduced and reformed through the competing tensions of systems of political governance and technologies of the self.
Sen, Scanlon and the Inadequacy of the Human Development Index
Although the capability approach has had a tremendous impact on the development debate, it has had little to say about sustainable development. As several Human Development Reports have maintained, the last twenty years' gains in human development are not sustainable. The failure to include an integrate sustainability into the Human Development Index would thus give the wrong policy message. Drawing on the works of Amartya Sen and Thomas Scanlon, this article argues that sustainable development can be seen as a process of increasing legitimate freedoms, the freedoms that others cannot reasonably reject. Thus, Sen's vision of development as freedom is amended to suggest limits to freedoms. Forms of development which are not sustainable can be reasonably rejected due, at least, to the harm and blighting entailed. Based on this, it is argued that at country level of comparison the Human Development Index should be combined with the Ecological Footprint to reflect sustainability, and that the Human Development Reports should give way to Sustainable Development Reports.
The Best Practice Price Sustainability Metrics
H. J. (Huub) Lenders
Private and societal costs have their origin in the classic and neo-classic era. The market, based on private costs, ignores externalities, while actors fail to gain access to information on societal costs, causing a gap. The best practice price (BPP), a sustainability metric, can fill this information gap. Based on science and the weighted opinions of stakeholders, best practices for basic production factors such as land, labor, and natural resources are identified and their costs calculated. Producers can use these data to calculate the BPP of their products. Besides the market price (the price to be paid), the BPP is mentioned on the invoice and price tag as representing the costs of production according to the best practices. The ratio of market price (MP) to the BPP ‒ the BP ratio (BPR) – makes comparison of different products possible. Using the BPR, producers, public entities, and consumers can set goals for sustainable production or consumption.
Recent Research in Sustainable Consumption Policy and Practice
From Slow Food and farmers' markets to ecolabels and fair trade an unprecedented number of consumer-based alternative food movements have risen in response to concerns about the environmental and social effects of industrialized agriculture. Some research suggests that these movements are successful in their efforts to reconnect communities, demystify global food chains, and produce sustainable foods, which are healthier for the planet and human bodies. Yet other scholars argue that the contemporary focus on consumer responsibility in policy and practice indicates much more than a process of reflexive modernization. The devolution of responsibility to consumers and the dominance of market-based solutions, these scholars argue, reflect the growing influence of neoliberal environmental governance. From this perspective these movements are naive in their assumption that consumers have the power necessary to overcome the structural barriers that inhibit significant change. These critics argue that the focus on consumer responsibility excludes those without access to consumer choice, reproduces social hierarchies, and fails to deliver the political and redistributive solutions necessary to achieve sustainability. Drawing on research across the social sciences this article surveys the existing evidence about the effectiveness of consumer-based movements in their attempts to create sustainable food systems.
An Academic Review
continents are aware of the relevance of societal processes for the world's ecosystems, but many remain confused about the supposed differences between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate sustainability (CS). Explanations and key constructs
Achieving Indigenous Environmental Justice in Canada
relationships with all of Creation, thereby establishing a sustainable and just world. In this way, some of the seemingly differing goals of Indigenous peoples (e.g., reconciliation, self-government, self-determination, and sovereignty) are seen as pathways to
Do We Need a Mobility Bill of Rights?
consumption—while Europe and North America show little sign of reducing their ownership levels. This car system, though, is patently not sustainable. Cars are at the fore-front of global oil usage and carbon dioxide emissions, exerting a detrimental impact