Integrating social theory and sustainability
Fievet, Charles Joseph
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Though it generally has environmental connotations, sustainability is at its most basic a social concept. It is society that is of interest in being ‘sustained;’ the environment will remain with or without society. Thus the environment is important to sustainability in that it supports society. This thesis argues that sustainability as it is currently understood is incomplete in that it does not include social concepts with any depth, and integrating ideas from social theory into sustainability can move it forward in a meaningful way. I focus on two social theories, social constructionism and critical realism, and investigate how they might be used to provide insight into concepts of sustainability. Finally, I form a new conceptualization of sustainability for landscape architecture, termed ‘dynamic sustainability,’ that embraces four goals: social meaning, natural meaning, participation, and change.