Critical Notes on Sustainability and Democracy

  • Johan Hedrén


The projects of sustainable development constitute a world basically created out of what has been labelled “essentially contested concepts”2: ecology, growth, development, basic needs, sustainability, justice, welfare and maybe the most tricky of them all — democracy. Despite this, in discourses on sustainable development most of these concepts are over and over again treated as if they were the most self-evident matters of course. Their ambiguity, complexity and obscurity are only sporadically commented on in this context. The reason for this seemingly strange fact is certainly strategic needs for rhetorical power, in order to reach co-operation, decisions and implementation in the complex “ecological areas”. To make anything substantial happen in the political realm of ecology, it is generally necessary to reduce the comprehensive complexity related to sustainability both in the social and in the ecological spheres. One prominent strategy to simplify these issues is to use the well-known classical narratives of modernity, applied to generally accepted ecological goals. In these narratives the above-mentioned concepts, all with a positive aura, are fundamental, but explorations of them in political discourses are rare.


Political Party Environmental Politics Political Parti Ecological Modernization Environmental Crisis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johan Hedrén
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Water and Environmental Studies, Tema InstituteLinköping UniversityLinköpingSweden

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