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The Sustainability Revolution: A Societal Paradigm Shift
Department of Sociology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, SE-75126, Sweden
Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Received: 8 March 2012; in revised form: 7 May 2012 / Accepted: 12 May 2012 / Published: 29 May 2012
Abstract: This article addresses a question relevant to those interested in the achievement of greater sustainability: What are some of the ways that major societal transformations come about? Firstly, four key mechanisms are identified in the article. Then, I go on to focus on one of these, which has a prominent place in the sustainability revolution that it is argued is now taking place. The question of what are characteristic features of the sustainability revolution is addressed. The ongoing transformations are largely piecemeal, incremental, diffuse—in earlier writings referred to as “organic”. Organic is a more encompassing notion than “grassroots”, since the innovation and transformation processes may be launched and developed at multiple levels by collective agents that in some cases are very large and would not be understood as “grassroots” actors. The article argues that the sustainability revolution shares some features, in particular its organic character, with the early industrial revolution. It concludes by addressing the question of what are the similarities and differences between the sustainability and industrial revolutions.
Keywords: global environmental change; paradigm shift; sustainability; transformation; revolution
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Cite This Article
MDPI and ACS Style
Burns, T.R. The Sustainability Revolution: A Societal Paradigm Shift. Sustainability 2012, 4, 1118-1134.
Burns TR. The Sustainability Revolution: A Societal Paradigm Shift. Sustainability. 2012; 4(6):1118-1134.
Burns, Tom R. 2012. "The Sustainability Revolution: A Societal Paradigm Shift." Sustainability 4, no. 6: 1118-1134.