Tom R. Burns

Sustainable Development. A Comment



This article has two purposes: to provide a minimalist background and contextualization of sociology's engagement with sustainable development and to comment briefly on the five articles appearing in this special issue on sustainable development. The article outlines two key research streams in sociology which were relatively distinct: developmental and environmental studies. The article suggests that these streams became linked in part with the emergence of the concept of sustainability development, which, however, was a political-administrative construction, not a scientific one. Among the sociological theories addressing sustainable development, the article focuses critical attention on ecological modernization, which provides a backdrop to four of the articles in this special issue. After commenting on each of the contributions, the article concludes that sociological research such as presented in the five papers is to be encouraged and expanded. Particularly important is the application and development of normative and policy analyses of sustainability issues, which characterize all of the papers.


  • sustainable development
  • ecological modernization
  • green cities
  • biogas
  • tourism
  • comparative policy analyses


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