Metrics for New Perceptions and Representations of Sustainability Issues

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Branko ANCIC, Institute for Social Research in Zagreb, Croatia
Marija BRAJDIĆ VUKOVIĆ, Univeristy of Zagreb, Croatia
Mladen DOMAZET, Institute for Political Ecology, Croatia
In an attempt to critically assess the accountability of metrics posed by bureaucratic modes of environmental governance special attention should be given to projections of fair environmental (planetary) boundaries on the imperative of economic growth, given its severe burden on the environment and the basis for future social reproduction (D’Alisa et al. 2014). From the sociological perspective, it is of special interest to have insights in knowledge creation and alternative processes of redefining problems that can be found within the expanding concept of degrowth. This concept underlines that degrowth should be a voluntary transition towards a just, participatory, and ecologically sustainable society with the necessity of developing new non-monetary indicators to assess the achievements of the proclaimed degrowth goals. The conventional metrics assumes uncontested perceptions and representations of sustainability challenges which is under criticism of the degrowth thinkers. In our presentation we use the arguments that “crunching numbers” first, in a way of re-evaluating old metrics and exploring new metrics, is a mode of achieving novel perceptions and representations of sustainability issues (Giampietro, Mayumi, Sorman, 2012.). As Meadows accentuated, “we measure what we care about” and “we care about what we measure” or in other words, changing the metrics can be one of the most powerful and easiest ways of making system changes (Meadows, 1998). The aim of our paper is to improve the understanding of “the social context” in which environmental degradation occurs through combining of various indicators in the web of societal-biophysical analysis from which the socio-ecological transition posed by the degrowth goals could be measured. Empirically, we connect different aspects of the material flow, comparative developmental attainments and prevalent social attitudes. We employ survey data on representative national samples over the past 5 years and set it against the comparatively advantageous biophysical funds and flows.