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Social Sustainability: A New Conceptual Framework

Efrat Eizenberg () and Yosef Jabareen ()
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Efrat Eizenberg: Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 3200003, Israel
Yosef Jabareen: Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 3200003, Israel

Sustainability, 2017, vol. 9, issue 1, 1-16

Abstract: There is a lack of theoretical and empirical studies regarding social sustainability. The literature reveals that the “social” was integrated late into debates on sustainable development. This paper aims to fill this gap and proposes a new conceptual framework of social sustainability. We suggest that risk is a constitutive concept of sustainability and that the contemporary conditions of risk resulting primarily from climate change and its ensuing uncertainties pose serious social, spatial, structural, and physical threats to contemporary human societies and their living spaces. Within the framework of sustainability, we propose that social sustainability strives to confront risk while addressing social concerns. Although we agree that without socially oriented practices, efforts to achieve sustainability will be undermined, as too many gaps exist in practice and theory. Thus, we propose a comprehensive Conceptual Framework of Social Sustainability, which is composed of four interrelated concepts of socially oriented practices, where each concept has a distinctive function in the framework and incorporates major social aspects. The concept of Equity encompasses three dimensions: recognition, which “revalues unjustly devalued identities”, redistribution, which suggests that the remedy for injustice is some form of economic restructuring, and parity of participation, which promotes substantive public involvement in the production of space. These efforts may, in turn, reduce alienation and enhance civility and a sense of community and place attachment. The concept of Safety is the ontological foundation of sustainability in general and social sustainability in particular. The concept refers to the right to not only be safe but adopt all measures of adaptation and security to prevent future casualties and physical harm. The concept of Eco-prosumption refers to modes of producing and gaining values in socially and environmentally responsible ways. The concept of Urban Forms represents the physical dimensions of socially desired urban and community physical forms. Eventually, a desired physical form should promote a sense of community, safety, health, and place attachment, among other environmental objectives.

Keywords: social sustainability; sociology; justice; risk; safety; mitigation; adaptation; energy; consumption; right to the city (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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