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2.7 The Forces Behind Changes


2.7 The Forces Behind Changes Today it is impossible to foresee how the manifested model of well-being can actually take place and evolve, but it is certain that its eventuality is based on the existence of social and cultural forces inside the society that could promote it. Do any such forces today? Yes and no, depending on how we look at it. To explain it better: within the dominant tendencies, together with emerging ones, all that has been said and proposed (a well-being that is based on context, regeneration of common goods and local resources, and concurrently, considering a well-being as the development of capacities) appears as a bundle of good intentions without any consistence, and is thus doomed from the beginning. Ideas about context clash for example with the crisis of ideas about places, and with consequent indifference about the very space that is our living context. And the proposal about regenerating local resources and common goods clashes with the rooting, the individualisation and colonisation of all available living space by the market. Finally, the consideration of well-being as the development of capacities appears contradictory to the inactive and passive tendencies, banalisation, or what might be called the McDonaldisation of life (from cooking to organising a party for the kids, transformed into standardised services). However, if now we are not interested in the statistical weight of the considered phenomena, but in their potential to change the future, observing the complexity of social dynamics, the emerging picture may change. As a result of a more precise observation, certain individuals and communities can be recognised that head in a different direction from the aforementioned one: individuals and communities, for whom the concepts of context and common goods are in fact known and field-tested territories9. However, this observation per se would not say anything very meaningful about the role of these groups or about the socio-cultural dynamics they represent. In the end, groups of people who have thought and acted in a way analogous, at least on first glance, to our description, have always existed, always in minorities, and therefore irrelevant. So, what is new today? There is something new and very significant indeed, that is, their way of proposing their ideas today. As a matter of fact, in modern society the study of ways of sustainable living and developing sustainable systems exists for a wide range of reasons: ideological, just as in the past, but also for functional and economic reasons. Many who change their attitude towards well-being and act accordingly do it because it seems more logical and comfortable with regard to their specific living conditions (trite, but significant choices like not having a car in a congested city, but using public transport; eating organic food, as long as it can be easily found; promoting new ideas about the neighbourhood and offering the community their services to deal with difficulties and high living costs among young couples or lonely pensioners). 9

Cf. Moscovic (1981); Rheingold (1994); Balbo (1993); EMUDE (2006); Meroni (2006).

Design for Environmental Sustainability  

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