Chapter 7 - The Sociology of Sustainable Development

14 similarly development has a number of possible

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Unformatted text preview: n between the vastly different ‘needs’ in the First and the Third Worlds nor between human needs and the consumer wants towards the satisfaction of which most of the First World consumption, at least, is directed.”14 Similarly, development has a number of possible connotations. Does development refer to production growth, as is typically indicated by growth of gross national product or gross domestic product; does it refer to environmental growth, such as an improvement of environmental resources; or does development refer to growth in human welfare, including health, working conditions, and income distribution?15 “ ‘Development’ is conceptually an empty shell which may cover anything from the rate of capital accumulation to the number of latrines, it becomes eternally unclear and contestable just what exactly should be kept sustainable.”16 Sustainable development and “sustainability” are not synonymous. SD analysts argue that sustainable development is not a neutral term; it is a political 224 CHAPTER SEVEN concept that represents a political agenda.17 Sustainable development fits into a global conversation about the best way for nations to “develop,” often thought of as poverty alleviation. John Dryzek argues that sustainable development is a discourse. “And it is not just any discourse. Since the publication of the report of the Brundtland Commission . . . it is arguably the dominant global discourse of environmental concern.”18 Sustainable development presents a strategy for development, an agenda for a style of development. The term sustainability, at least as related to ecological sustainability, is more neutral or “scientific” in that whether or not an ecological process can be said to be “sustainable” can be related to objective criteria. Ecological and social sustainability could also be constructed along more “objective” criteria; nonetheless, cataloguing these two types of sustainability is more problematic and more prone to debates as to what is/is not sustainable. In part due to the lack of consensus of meaning, critics argue that being in favor of sustainable developm...
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