The Sustainability Revolution: A Societal Paradigm Shift
1. The Crises of the Planetary Environment and the Emergence of the Sustainability Paradigm 
2. Paradigm Shifts and Societal Transformations: Meta-Power and Social Structuring
3. Mechanisms of Social Order Formation and Transformation
3.1. Dominant Power (Autocracy) Combined with a Shift in the Agent’s Cognitive-Normative Framework 
3.2. Power Shifts
3.3. A New Order Is Established Through Multi-Agent Negotiation (Possibly with Mediation or Some Arbitration in Relation to Conflicting Parties)
3.4. Paradigm Shift Through Diffusion and Emulation (“Organic” Transformation)
4. Organic Transformations: The Case of Sustainability
4.1. Early Industrial Revolution (Toward the End of the Eighteenth Century) 
4.2. The Emerging Sustainability Revolution
- The increasing stress on green values: that is, articulation and development of new values, norms, standards, in a word, the “green” normative perspective.
- An ever-growing generalized judgment that “green” patterns of action and developments are “good.” And patterns and developments which are “non-green” or “anti-green” (use of high gas consumption vehicles, overuse or wastage of water or other critical resources, etc.) are “bad”.
- New practices, for instance new accounting conceptions and standards such as “triple bottom line”.
- The growing role of “green thinking, conceptions, standards and practices” in many areas of social life; there are also increasing narratives about green ideas, values, and standards, which circulate in wider and wider circles.
- The growing role of “green” entrepreneurs (for whatever reasons, they initiate projects—beliefs in a green future, profitability, pressures of competition, or combinations of such motivators).
- Green governance; new regulatory mechanisms: distinguishing “good” (green) versus “bad” (non-green) innovations and developments.
- Institutionalization of green standards and considerations in decision and policymaking settings in government agencies, corporations, and associations.
- Increasing stakeholder involvement in the corridors of economic and policymaking power (Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, WWF).
- Greening of consumption.
- Massive experimentation (accompanied by failures, of course) with “green” initiatives. These concern not only businesses but NGOs, other private agents, government agencies, etc.
- New alertness and readiness to experiment or innovate with green ideas, designs, technologies and practices.
- continuing environmental crises (that will not go away)
- continual outpouring of critical analyses and prognoses about the current failings and hazards
- normative ethos and collective pressures
- sustained creative challenge; the excitement of innovating, experiencing the new, its opportunities as well as exhilarating risks and uncertainties
- the paradigm shift itself entails new ways to frame, think, judge, and act that are challenges to be mastered and developed
- diffusion and imitation mechanisms through diverse social networks
- Complexity: sustainalization is taking place in a much more developed and complicated world in terms of institutions, cultures, and technologies including of course communications; for instance, the infrastructures of agriculture, manufacturing, government, science, education, etc. are very different.
- The numbers and diversity of stakeholders and regulatory and governance systems that must be taken into account is much greater (partly a result of democratization and partly learning to deal with modern complexity).
- Our modern world has its established expectations about consumption levels, lifestyles and welfare (this is also increasingly the case in developing countries).
- There are greater explicit concerns about issues of general welfare, justice, human rights (see Stockholm Memorandum ).
- because of the resources and capabilities of modern science and technology
- because of the availability of more rapid and widespread advanced communications (scientific and technical associations, the WWW, twitter, facebook, blogs linking people concerned about environment and sustainability and facilitating the spread of sustainability ideas and accelerating rates of innovation and application).
- because of the large numbers of people and collective agents already mobilized and acting to drive sustainability improvements and transformations.
References and Notes 
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- The reference list does not do justice to the many researchers whose work has contributed to the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of this article. This will be accomplished in a book to appear in 2013.
© 2012 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open-access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Burns, T.R. The Sustainability Revolution: A Societal Paradigm Shift. Sustainability 2012, 4, 1118-1134. https://doi.org/10.3390/su4061118
Burns TR. The Sustainability Revolution: A Societal Paradigm Shift. Sustainability. 2012; 4(6):1118-1134. https://doi.org/10.3390/su4061118Chicago/Turabian Style
Burns, Tom R. 2012. "The Sustainability Revolution: A Societal Paradigm Shift" Sustainability 4, no. 6: 1118-1134. https://doi.org/10.3390/su4061118