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A Strategic Approach to Social Sustainability -Part 1: Exploring the Social System
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5822-5152
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Strategic Sustainable Development.
2017 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 140, no Part 1, 32-41 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The vast and growing array of concepts, methods and tools in the sustainability field imply a need for a structuring and coordinating framework, including a unifying and operational definition of sustainability. One attempt at such framework began over 25 years ago and is now widely known as the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development. However, as with the larger sustainability field, the social dimension of this framework has been found to not be sufficiently science-based and operational and thus in need of further development. In this two-part series an attempt at a science-based, operational definition of social sustainability is presented. In this paper (part one), a systems-based approach to the social system is presented, as a basis for presenting a zero-hypothesis of principles for social sustainability in part two. Extensive literature studies as well as conceptual modeling sessions were performed and the social system was examined from various angles – complex adaptive system studies, human needs theory and other social sciences, and insights from these fields were woven together. The whole work was structured and guided by the Framework for Strategic Sustainable Development. The focus of the study was on the essential aspects of the social system that need to be sustained (that cannot be systematically degraded) for it to be possible for people to meet their needs. These essential aspects were found to be trust, common meaning, diversity, capacity for learning and capacity for self-organization. Trust seems to be generally acknowledged to be the overriding aspect of a vital social system. A sense of common meaning is also stated by several authors as an important part of social capital and something that helps to keep a group or society together. Diversity is acknowledged as essential for resilience; in the human social system this can be interpreted as, e.g., diversity of personalities, ages, gender, skills. Capacity for learning and self-organization are also motivated from a resilience point of view by several authors. These results form a basis for the hypothesis for a definition of social sustainability presented in paper 2, which in turn is a step towards creating an enhanced support for strategic planning and innovation for sustainability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2017. Vol. 140, no Part 1, 32-41 p.
Keyword [en]
strategic sustainable development; social sustainability; social system; systems thinking; sustainability principles
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-11906DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.03.170OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-11906DiVA: diva2:930370
Note

Financial support was provided by the FUTURA foundation and is hereby gratefully acknowledged. FUTURA was not involved in the study design, the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, in the writing of the report or in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Available from: 2016-05-23 Created: 2016-05-23 Last updated: 2016-12-20Bibliographically approved

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The full text will be freely available from 2018-04-17 18:26
Available from 2018-04-17 18:26

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Missimer, MerlinaRobèrt, Karl-HenrikBroman, Göran
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