Sustainable development : the reflexive governance of risk
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In the face of increase global environmental phenomena such as global warming, social, political and knowledge structures are being reformulated in order to better accommodate these events into governance frameworks. For Ulrich Beck, increased risk has created a World Risk Society which is defined by a state of 'reflexive' modernity (RM) where the central tenets of modernity are re-examined and current developmental patterns are drawn into question. In political and social discourse increased risk has created the need to achieve a sustainable development (SD). In light of criticisms that Beck makes broad and unsubstantiated theoretical assertions, this thesis examines the proposition that the discursive rise of the concept of SD in political and social governance structures is evidence of a reflexive modernity. The above proposition is examined at both the global and the local scales accessing the dimensions of politics, and sub politics outlined by Beck. At the global scale, discursive representations of sustainable development were examined within the United Nations during the 57th United Nations General Assembly. At the local sub political level a partnership governance structure is examined which was designed to enhance sustainable lifestyles. Findings suggest that whilst a significant relationship does exist between SD and RM, this relationship alters considerably from the global to the local scales of analysis. Further, the process of exploring this relationship provides important insights into the way that SD is being articulated in broad governance structures.
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