Chapter 7 - The Sociology of Sustainable Development

20 akin to this criticism is that the term

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Unformatted text preview: ent comes relatively commitment-free.19 For example, “Sustainable development is a mother-and-apple-pie formulation that everyone can agree on; there are no reports of any politician or international bureaucrat proclaiming his or her support for unsustainable development.”20 Akin to this criticism is that the term “sustainable” is used to describe so many desirable institutions that the word has lost meaning. Who could argue against sustainable society, sustainable economics, sustainable democracy, sustainable cities, or sustainable tourism, to name a few? The “sustainable” tag is integrated into many aspects of life. For example, the following definition of sustainable agriculture (from the 1990 Farm Bill) touches on all three of the aspects of SD—economic, environmental, and social.21 Sustainable agriculture is: An integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term: satisfy human and fiber needs; enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends; make the most efficient use of non-renewable resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.22 Individuals and institutions in powerful positions embrace the idea of SD as it is popularly interpreted. This rendition of sustainable development fits squarely into a managerial interpretation of social life23 in that SD only requires slight modifications to existing modes of production, existing political structures, and existing values.24 Radical interpretations, such as that put forward by Sharachandra Lélé, point out that the concept “Does not contradict the deep-rooted normative notion of development as economic growth. In other words, SD is an attempt to have one’s cake and eat it too.”25 Fred Buttel, nonetheless, points out some of the advantages of a “vague” notion of sustainable development:...
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This note was uploaded on 10/25/2010 for the course SOSCI INBA6610 taught by Professor Prescott during the Fall '08 term at University of the West Indies at St. Augustine.

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