Chapter 7 - The Sociology of Sustainable Development

8 while the limits to growth debate asks whether

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Unformatted text preview: r aspirations for economic growth to stabilize the world environment for the benefit of the industrial world.”8 While the limits to growth debate asks whether environmental protection and continued economic growth are compatible, the mainstream sustainable development rhetoric assumes that the two are complimentary and instead focuses on how sustainable development can be achieved. 9 The SD discourse does not assume there are fixed limits; it is pro-technology, pro-growth, and compromise oriented. The WCED report clearly states, “The concept of sustainable development does imply limits—not absolute limits but limitations imposed by the present state of technology and social organizations on environmental resources and by the ability of the biosphere to absorb the effects of human activities. But technology and social organization can be both managed and improved to make way for a new era of economic growth.”10 The emphasis of sustainable development on meeting the needs and desires of multiple constituencies also relates back to a key theme of “appropriate,” “intermediate,” and “soft” technologies. This theme, discussed earlier in Chapter 5, is that technology should be suited to cultural contexts. While consulting with the LDCs to assist them in expanding production and decreasing unemployment, E. F. Schumacher developed a critique of the transfer of energy- and capital-intensive technologies from the more-developed countries (MDCs, or, the North) to the LDCs.11 The technologies are directed to maximizing output per worker. For Schumacher, this transfer is not appropriate for nations with high rates of unemployment. Schumacher suggests intermediate technologies (using human labor and efficient methods) could increase production and employment, thus addressing economic and social concerns of the LDCs. Unlike some of the political disagreements gen- THE SOCIOLOGY OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT 223 erated by the notion of limits to growth, Allan Schnaiberg argues that there was support for Schumacher’s id...
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