Sustainability database


Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change

Sustainability is cultural too

How can we move towards sustainability?

Public and policy discussions are overwhelmingly dominated by economic arguments and the pursuit of technical solutions. But CRESC researchers argue that these foci are too limited. Sustainability is as much about ‘culture’ as it is about technologies or economics. But how to think about this?

Here is the problem. CRESC researchers – and they aren’t alone – argue that social change is complex and diverse. This means that it resists simple models. In one way this is disappointing. It would be reassuring if the social world and questions of sustainability could be understood in straightforward  terms. But the CRESC argument is that this has been tried – in social philosophy, in politics, in social science, and indeed in economics – and it has failed.

So how to think about sustainability in a world of complexity? CRESC argues that there are no short-cuts. First we need to look at sustainability or its absence – empirically. Then we need to develop a wide range of appropriate methodological and theoretical tools for thinking rigorously about those cases. And then we need to share those tools between different cases and explore how they may be used to secure more successful policy and community interventions.

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