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Social sustainability as a challenge for urban scholars

Cauvain, Jenni


Jenni Cauvain


Urban sustainability is an increasingly popular term used by scientists and policymakers from all disciplines, increasingly without any reference to the tradition of critical urban studies. It is often observed that the social pillar is missing, if sustainability is understood via the ‘three-legged stool’ concept encompassing social, economic and environmental dimensions. With a few notable exceptions, there appears to be a lack of interest also within urban scholarship to use the term ‘social sustainability’ to address this gap, although critical urban scholars are productive in the critique of sustainability as a social and political construct. Drawing on the idea of a politics of knowledge, this paper points to political, institutional and conceptual factors that have limited the purchase of social sustainability in research. These factors are rooted in sustainability being predominantly understood as an environmental concern, and a culture that may marginalise research subscribing to a post-positivist epistemology. This article asks whether the social pillar of sustainability could offer a discursive and symbolic tool for researchers to make the case for a critical urban epistemology in interdisciplinary research environments.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 20, 2018
Print ISSN 1360-4813
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 22
Issue 4
Pages 595-603
APA6 Citation Cauvain, J. (2018). Social sustainability as a challenge for urban scholars. City, 22(4), (595-603). doi:10.1080/13604813.2018.1507113. ISSN 1360-4813
Keywords social sustainability, urban sustainability, politics, knowledge, post-positivist
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in City on 20 September 2018, available online: http://www.tandfonline..../13604813.2018.1507113.


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