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Contesting sustainability in theory-practice: In praise of ambivalence

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Davison, A (2008) Contesting sustainability in theory-practice: In praise of ambivalence. Continuum, 22 (2). pp. 191-199. ISSN 1030-4312

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Abstract

A great deal has been written about the complexity and multiplicity of the essentially contested concept of sustainability (Becker and Jahn 1999; Dobson 1999; Harris et al. 2001; recent contributions include Baker 2006; Connelly 2007; Newman 2007; Redclift 2005). Many have lamented the slippery, shape-shifting nature of this concept and that it has accumulated an absurd number of definitions. As early as 1988, Richard Norgaard (1988, 607) observed that, with the concept meaning ‘something different to everyone, the quest for sustainable development is off to a cacophonous start’. This quest has been not only noisy but impassioned. Sustainability is a preoccupation that simultaneously engages powers of reason, belief and feeling, messing up any neat separation of descriptive and normative claims. An extraordinarily elastic concept, it is not surprising that ‘public discussion concerning the environment has become primarily a discourse of sustainability’ (Torgerson 1995, 10).

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Continuum
Page Range: pp. 191-199
ISSN: 1030-4312
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1080/10304310701861598
Additional Information: The definitive version is available online at http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content?
Date Deposited: 29 May 2008 22:11
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:40
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/6460
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