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Social Sustainability and Its Indicators through a Disability Studies and an Ability Studies Lens

Author

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  • Gregor Wolbring

    () (Faculty of Medicine, Department of Community Health Sciences, Stream of Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N4N1, Canada)

  • Theresa Rybchinski

    () (Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N4N1, Canada)

Abstract

The present journal recently stated in the call for a special issue on social sustainability, “[t]hough sustainable development is said to rest on ‘three pillars’, one of these—social sustainability—has received significantly less attention than its bio-physical environmental and economic counterparts”. The current issue promises to engage the concepts of “development sustainability”, “bridge sustainability” and “maintenance sustainability” and the tensions between these different aspects of social sustainability. The aim of the present study is to identify the visibility of disabled people in the academic social sustainability literature, to ascertain the impact and promises of social sustainability indicators put forward in the same literature and to engage especially with the concepts of “development sustainability”, “bridge sustainability” and “maintenance sustainability” through disability studies and ability studies lenses. We report that disabled people are barely covered in the academic social sustainability literature; of the 5165 academic articles investigated only 26 had content related to disabled people and social sustainability. We also conclude that social sustainability indicators evident in the 1909 academic articles with the phrase “social sustainability” in the abstract mostly focused on products and did not reflect yet the goals outlined in the “development sustainability” aspect of social sustainability proposed by Vallance such as basic needs, building social capital, justice and so on. We posit that if the focus within the social sustainability discourse shifts more toward the social that an active presence of disabled people in this discourse is essential to disabled people. We showcase the utility of an ability studies lens to further the development and application of the “development sustainability”, “bridge sustainability” and “maintenance sustainability” concepts. We outline how different ability expectations intrinsic to certain schools of thought of how to deal with human-nature relationships (for example anthropocentric versus bio/ecocentric) impact this relationship and “bridge sustainability”. As to “maintenance development”, we posit that no engagement has happened yet with the ability expectation conflicts between able-bodied and disabled people, or for that matter with the ability expectation differences between different able-bodied groups within social sustainability discourses; an analysis essential for the maintenance of development. In general, we argue that there is a need to generate ability expectation conflict maps and ability expectations conflict resolution mechanisms for all sustainable development discourses individually and for ability conflicts between sustainable development discourses.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregor Wolbring & Theresa Rybchinski, 2013. "Social Sustainability and Its Indicators through a Disability Studies and an Ability Studies Lens," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(11), pages 1-19, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:5:y:2013:i:11:p:4889-4907:d:30442
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Aimee Shreck & Christy Getz & Gail Feenstra, 2006. "Social sustainability, farm labor, and organic agriculture: Findings from an exploratory analysis," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 23(4), pages 439-449, December.
    2. Jacqueline Noga & Gregor Wolbring, 2012. "The Economic and Social Benefits and the Barriers of Providing People with Disabilities Accessible Clean Water and Sanitation," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 4(11), pages 1-19, November.
    3. Gregor Wolbring, 2012. "Expanding Ableism: Taking down the Ghettoization of Impact of Disability Studies Scholars," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(3), pages 1-9, July.
    4. Stamford, Laurence & Azapagic, Adisa, 2011. "Sustainability indicators for the assessment of nuclear power," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 6037-6057.
    5. Jacqueline Noga & Gregor Wolbring, 2013. "An Analysis of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) Discourse Using an Ability Expectation Lens," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(9), pages 1-25, August.
    6. Gregor Wolbring & Brigid Burke, 2013. "Reflecting on Education for Sustainable Development through Two Lenses: Ability Studies and Disability Studies," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(6), pages 1-16, May.
    7. Edwin Chan & Grace Lee, 2008. "Critical factors for improving social sustainability of urban renewal projects," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 85(2), pages 243-256, January.
    8. repec:eee:touman:v:31:y:2010:i:6:p:816-826 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:ecomod:v:210:y:2008:i:1:p:115-126 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Crisanta-Alina Mazilescu & Bernard Gangloff, 2017. "Value Assigned to Employees Who Preserve the Social and Organizational Environment," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-17, January.
    2. Rakhshanda Khan, 2016. "How Frugal Innovation Promotes Social Sustainability," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(10), pages 1-29, October.
    3. Adriana Acevedo Tirado & Mariana Ruiz Morales & Odette Lobato-Calleros, 2015. "Additional Indicators to Promote Social Sustainability within Government Programs: Equity and Efficiency," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(7), pages 1-17, July.
    4. Virgilio Gilart-Iglesias & Higinio Mora & Raquel Pérez-delHoyo & Clara García-Mayor, 2015. "A Computational Method based on Radio Frequency Technologies for the Analysis of Accessibility of Disabled People in Sustainable Cities," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(11), pages 1-29, November.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social sustainability; disabled people; people with disabilities; disability studies; indicators; social determinants of health; ability studies;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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