The paradox of sustainability definitions
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/15533
Purpose: This paper aims to encourage debate and reflection over the increasing application of the word sustainability and the implied meanings are taken from this usage. It is argued that there are increasing numbers of sustainability definitions which are producing negative effects; that the interpretation and dissemination of sustainability definitions are not neutral in their effects of understanding sustainability. Design/Methodology/Approach: This paper examines how sustainability is conceptualised from two worldviews and by specifically looking at four different convening parties; how their dimensions of sustainability are linked, influence and drive the construction of the sustainability definitions in a variety of areas and in the public domain. Findings: This research has identified that the paradox of sustainability definitions lies in the parties who create them and not in the issues of sustainability; that often sustainability definitions do not share the same goals. Practical Implications: This paper seeks to bring the increasing surfeit of sustainability definitions under scrutiny and therefore extend possibilities of further research in the areas of social responsibility, ethics, claims of professionalism and accountability. Originality/Value: There has been little if any research that questions the validity of the sustainability definitions and how they address the issues of sustainability. It shows that the sustainability definitions can affect and shape the understanding of sustainability in a variety of areas and for a variety of parties.
© 2010 The Author.
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