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Chapter 7 - The Sociology of Sustainable Development

In this way managerial approaches to sd enforce the

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Unformatted text preview: l account of sustainable development is also the mainstream approach to this goal, at least in the United States.31 Sunderlin argues that “sustainable development is essentially a managerial and reformist concept.”32 Managerial accounts of SD do not question existing political or economic structures. As we indicated earlier in Chapter 2, managerialists advocate incremental changes. In this way, managerial approaches to SD enforce the existing power structure and reinforce an economy built on the ideology of growth. Actors currently in control of economic development processes, such as the World Bank and the USAID at a transnational level, and national governments and corporations at the state level, tend to take a managerial course to sustainable development. An assumption of the managerial approach is that poverty is linked to environmental degradation; thus, ending poverty through economic development (aka economic growth) will also curb environmental damage. Managerial actors are concerned with how the “theory” of SD can be put into action, especially through existing “development” programs. Rather than reconstruct their entire way of doing things, these actors instead try to adapt the themes of SD into their existing development programs. THE SOCIOLOGY OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT 227 Much of the work of Lester R. Brown and the Worldwatch Institute focuses on the managerial “nuts and bolts” of sustainable development. Brown and colleagues’ recommendations for a “sustainable society” include a discussion of using more efficient technologies, decentralizing energy production, and reusing and recycling.33 At an international level, sociologist Michael Cernea works with the World Bank to promote “putting people first” in development projects if one wants “lasting social sustainability for development programs, and better environmental management.”34 Other organizations, such as the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Nigerian Environmental Action Team, produce managerial-style “what to do texts,” reviewed in Diana Mitlin’s guide of the literature on SD.35 The radical critique of sustainable development examines the degree to which the mechani...
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