How Will Sustainability Transform Democracy? Reflections on an Important Dimension of Transformation Sciences
The concept of democracy implies two basic elements: the protection of individual rights by the rule of law and the possibility of determining the future through elections or other forms of participation. However, if individual rights imply a non-sustainable way of life, and if the right to make free collective choices includes the possibility of making fatal mistakes, a tension seems to arise between democracy and sustainability. The Great Transformation will have consequences for the Western way of life and the way we view democracy. The question of sustainability’s ramifications for the concept of democracy ought to be discussed more broadly. Transformation sciences would benefit from a more extensive exchange with political theory. The challenge of how to implement sustainability in a democratic way is more complex, as classical models of participatory or deliberative democracy are increasingly seen to be in a crisis state. A more intense impact of democratic politics on citizens’ ways of life will only be accepted if citizens feel sufficiently involved in the collectively binding decisions they are expected to implement. The idea of Green republicanism therefore seems a plausible model for a sustainable democracy.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2018
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