Individual Paper: Futures of Sustainability: Modernization, Transformation, Control
In the last two decades, sustainability has become a guiding principle for states, organizations, companies, and social movements as well as a general ideal for social change. While sustainability seems to be an inevitable path of development, there is no consensus over the goals and visions of the future associated with this concept.
Proponents of a “Green Economy”, for instance, regard economic growth as a prerequisite for sustainable development and advocate a modernization of society, which implies moderate adjustments towards a sustainable economy within the current institutional framework. Critics of this ecological modernization approach see the imperative of economic growth as an obstacle for sustainable development and instead support a fundamental transformation of society and economy. A third perspective tries to solve the problems of sustainable development with wide-ranging politics of control, using concepts such as “ecological state of emergency” or enforcing resilience measures for vulnerable populations while creating safe enclaves for a privileged few.
These three possible trajectories of social change – modernization, transformation and control – are not fixed yet, but rather represent different and highly contested imaginaries of the future. These imaginaries then structure distinctive practices of sustainability in the fields of politics, the economy, civil society, and science.
The proposed talk aims at analysing the possible futures of sustainability, specifically modernization, transformation, and control. It focuses on sustainability as a sociological category indicative for understanding socio-economic change, the emergence of new conflicts, inequalities, hierarchies, and justification patterns that result from including sustainable criteria into different fields, institutions, and value systems.
Deciphering futures of sustainability does not aim at providing prognoses or forecasts, but, firstly, intents to work out a diagnosis that asks how contemporary societies change when they are guided by these very different imaginaries of sustainability and, secondly, to discuss this diagnosis with regard to possible political strategies of social change.
Start time: 11:30
Track: - Other - (fill submission note below)