Reference : Risk, sustainability and time: sociological perspectives
Parts of books : Contribution to collective works
Social & behavioral sciences, psychology : Sociology & social sciences
Sustainable Development
Risk, sustainability and time: sociological perspectives
Wong, Catherine mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) >]
Lockie, Stewart mailto [James Cook University > The Cairns Institute]
Social Sciences and Sustainability
Schandl, Heinz mailto
Walker, Iain mailto
[en] Risk ; Sustainability ; Temporality
Researchers ; Professionals ; Students ; General public
Risk and sustainability are both inherently temporal concepts. They speak to the possible timing and magnitude of adverse events, the tempo of environmental change, the rights of future generations, and so on. Yet it is precisely these temporal aspects of risk and sustainability that are often most difficult to apprehend and the focus, consequently, of social and political conflict.

This chapter will review what has been learned about the social and political dimensions of risk and what these mean for sustainability researchers and practitioners. Addressing risk at multiple scales, the chapter will consider:
• Contestation over how concepts like ‘risk’, ‘disaster’ and ‘vulnerability’ are understood.
• The unequal distribution of risk and vulnerability.
• Why catastrophic failures in technological systems can almost always be traced to failures in the institutions that design, operate and regulate them.
• How global environmental change is already fundamentally re-organizing contemporary societies.
• Why climate modeling contributes, counter-intuitively, to the polarization of climate politics.

The chapter will conclude by commenting on the implications of sociological research on risk for framings of the risk-sustainability nexus in terms of ‘resilience’. It will argue that despite its common-sense appeal, the ideal of temporal stability embedded within resilience thinking is, in fact, inconsistent with the transformative and adaptive challenge of intra- and inter-generational justice.

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