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Post-sustainable development


  • Stephen Morse

    (Department of Geography, Whiteknights, University of Reading, Reading, UK)


The past 15 years have witnessed the rise of post-development theory as a means of understanding the development discourse since the 1940s. Post-development argues that intentional development (as distinct from immanent development - what people are doing anyway) is a construct of Western hegemony. Sustainable development, they argue, is no different and indeed is perhaps worse, given that most of the global environmental degradation has been driven by consumerism and industrialization in the West. Critics of post-development counter by stating that it only provides destruction by tearing apart what is currently practiced in 'development' without providing an alternative. When post-developmentalists do offer an alternative it typically amouints to little more than a call for more grassroots involvement in development and disengagement from a Western agenda. Post-sustainable development analysis and counter-analysis has received remarkably little attention within the sustainable development literature, yet this paper argues that it can make a positive contributrion by calling for an analysis of discourse rather than a hiding of power differentials and an assumption that consensus must exist within a community. A case is made for a post-sustainable development that acknowledges that diversity will exist and consensus may not be achievable, but at the same time participation can help with learning. The role of the expert within sustainable development is also discussed. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Morse, 2008. "Post-sustainable development," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(5), pages 341-352.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:16:y:2008:i:5:p:341-352
    DOI: 10.1002/sd.354

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ghazala Mansuri, 2004. "Community-Based and -Driven Development: A Critical Review," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 19(1), pages 1-39.
    2. John Parkins, 2006. "De-centering environmental governance: A short history and analysis of democratic processes in the forest sector of Alberta, Canada," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 39(2), pages 183-202, June.
    3. Maria Manta Conroy & Philip R Berke, 2004. "What makes a good sustainable development plan? An analysis of factors that influence principles of sustainable development," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 36(8), pages 1381-1396, August.
    4. Victoria A Beard, 2005. "Individual determinants of participation in community development in Indonesia," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 23(1), pages 21-39, February.
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