• Julie Hvilshøj Ovadja
This paper is written with the aim of finding ways to increase sustainability in contemporary mainstream society. This aim is based on the assumption that economic growth and market-economic values in mainstream society, such as profit maximization, consumerism and competition, are prioritized over environmental protection and ecological sustainability. Initially a description of the theoretical framework will be completed in order to be better equipped for a deeper analysis of why we have reached the current situation that is argued to be threatening the future and well-being of human beings and how we can facilitate a change towards a more sustainable society. Moreover, in this paper an extensive overview of the process of globalization and its impact on both inequality and environmental degradation is conducted in order to give a better idea of how unsustainable mainstream society has become. One of the main findings of the paper is that contemporary mainstream society is becoming increasingly more unsustainable, as natural resources are being depleted and biodiversity lost for the sake of generating economic profit. This finding is supported by the theoretical framework of ecological economics. The levels of unsustainability are furthermore illustrated with the chosen case study in this paper. This case study of a traditional society in Kumaun Himalaya in India shows how the integration into mainstream society has led to a loss of biodiversity and deterioration of the natural resources in the area. In the paper this is, among other things, explained with early political ecology thinking which emphasizes that the integration into mainstream society and the market-economic system could be a catalyst for the degradation of the environment. In this paper traditional knowledge systems, such as the one that prevailed in the traditional society highlighted in the case study, are seen as a central feature in the quest for sustainability, as a clear correlation between traditional knowledge and the level of sustainability can be found. Finally traditional knowledge, especially with regards to the deep understanding of resource management and the natural environment, can inspire the change that is needed, as a structural change of norms is regarded one of the only possible solutions in fulfilling the pressing sustainability criterion in contemporary mainstream society.
Publication date1 Jun 2012
Number of pages58
ID: 63483889