by B Littig · 2005 · Cited by 1005 — Int. J. Sustainable Development, Vol. 8, Nos. 1/2,2005. Social sustainability: a catchword between political pragmatism and social theory. Beate Littig* and Erich
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Int. J. Sustainable Development, Vol. 8, Nos. 1/2,2005 Social sustainability: a catchword between political pragmatism and social theory Beate Littig* and Erich Grießler Department of Sociology, Instit ute for Advanced Studies (IHS), Stumpergasse 56, A 1060 Vienna, Austria E-mail: email@example.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.ihs.ac.at *Corresponding author Abstract: The sustainability concepts of the ‘Brundtland-Report’ and the ‘Rio documents’ call for a combination of ecol ogical, economic, social and institutional aspects of social development. This pape r describes briefly, several models of sustainability and discusses social sustai nability as conceptualised in selected sustainability indicators. In an attempt to re medy the lack of soci ological theory, the paper proposes a sustainability concept, whic h is based on the concepts of needs and work, as an activity to fulfil these needs and as the pr incipal exchange process between society and nature. Moreover, this paper argues in favour of r ecognition of social sustainability as both a normativ e and analytical concept. Keywords: needs; sustainable work; gender; mixed work; ecological sustainability; economic sustainability. Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Littig, B. and Griel3ler, E. (2005) ‘Social sustainability: a catchword between political pragmatism and social theory’, Int. J Sustainable Development, Vol. 8, Nos. 1/2, pp.65-79. Biographical notes: Beate Littig is a Sociologist and works as Assistant Professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vie nna and as a University Lecturer at the University of Vienna. She received her PhD in Sociology at the University of Hagen and recived the “Venia Legendi for Sociology” after her habilitation at the University of Vienna. Her research interests include the relationship between society and nature, gender studies, the future of work, tec hnology assesment and qualitative research methods. Erich Grießler is Senior Researcher at th e Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna, Austria. He studied sociology and history at the University of Vienna, Austria and the University of Maastricht, Netherlands. His research interests are in the wide area of social studies of science, particularly in the field of biomedicine (transplantation, xenotransplantation, stem cell research , genetic testing), technology policy, participatory technology assessment. 1 The myth about the three equa l pillars of sustainability 65 The sustainability concepts of the Brundtla nd report (WCED, 1987) and the Rio documents (UN, 1992) demand the combination of ecological, economic, social, and – something which is often ignored – institutional aspects of social development. Copyright © 2005 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.
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66 B. Littig and E. Grießler In the mostly politically oriented discourses on sust ainability, these different areas have come to be called ‘dimensions’ or ‘pillars ‘. Accordingly, operationalisi ng sustainable development means that the individual pillars/dimensions ought to be related to each other and put in more concrete terms. Basically, these operationalisation efforts can be categorised as one-pillar or multi-pillar models (cf. Kopfmililer et aI., 2001), the basics of which will be illustrated and discussed in the following. 1.1 One-pillar models The one-pillar models of sustainable developm ent clearly give priority to the ecological dimension. Based on that, sustainable development should mainly help preserve the ecological systems and resources necessary for economic and social life – as an important prerequisite for meeting the future needs of humanity. The economy and what is rather vaguely described as ‘social matters’ (e.g., lifestyles) are taken to be the main causes for environmental problems, which will obviously have to be improved or ch anged to ensure ecological sustainability. Economic and social aspects are only relevant in this approach insofar as the ecologisation of social development needs to be economically and socially compatible as well. In connection with the prevention of poverty in the southern c ountries, economic and social matters have also been discussed as a prerequisite for environmental protection (WCED, 1987). Institutional aspects, on the other hand, playa somewhat bigger role in implementati on strategies, based on which the existing or newly created institutional bodies will have to carry out the respective measures and tasks. Ecological development that is geared to ecological sustainability, therefore, mainly aims to reduce the production and use of harmful substa nces to a minimum, so as to minimise environmental pollution, the exploitation of valuab le resources as well as the so-called ‘use of the environment’. In order to operationalise these goals, several c oncepts have been developed, which are all trying to identify to what extent the environment is used by different social/spatial entities (countries, regions, etc.) a nd to come up with sensible suggestions on how this use of the environment could be distributed more equally. Among these concepts, the ‘ecological footprint’ (Wackernagel and Rees, 1995) a nd the so-called ‘environmenta l space’ (BUND and Misereor, 1996) have come to be the most famous. The concepts of ecological sustainability call for a politically induced shift towards a more environmentally friendly way of life (e.g., by means of a socio-ecological tax reform), which will at the same time also lead to some positive socio-political effects (e.g., reduction of working hours, gender equality). Combining ecological and social objectives will clearly make it easier to implement ecologically motivated control measures, and it will also reduce political and cultural resistance (win-win co nstellations). Yet even though such interventions can quite reasonably be expected to have positive socio-politi cal effects, the main focus of this approach is still on obtaining the best possible ecological effects. 1.2 Three-pillar or multi-pillar models At an international level, the sustainability discourse clearly gives pnonty to the so-called ‘three- pillar model’, according to which sustainable social development should equally try to reach ecological, economic, and social goals.
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Social sustainability 67 The proposed equal treatment of the three pillars is based on the conclusion that human needs cannot be sufficiently met just by pr oviding an ecologically stable and healthy environment, but that – if a society is indeed committed to sustainability – the equally legitimate social and cultural needs ought to be taken car e of as well. Economic, social, and cultural conditions, efforts, and values are deemed to be resources that also need to be preserved for future generations. Another line of argument presum es that ecology, economy, a nd social matters are three individual – albeit connected – systems, which will ha ve to remain stable in the long term so as not to jeopardise the achievements of civilisation. Although the metaphor of the tree-pillar model – a nd it should indeed be understood as such – is certainly a welcome addition to a purely ecological definition of sustainability, it can also be criticised in some points. First of all, a limita tion to three pillars does not make much sense from a theoretical point of view, despite the fact that it is based on the United Nations’ instructions to the Brundtland Commission (DIW et aI., 2001, p.35). A cultural-aesthetic, a religious-spiritual, or a political-institutional pillar (Pfahl in this volum e), for instance, could also be integrated in the definition of sustainability.! The different priorities, which are in rea lity assigned to the three dimensions of sustainability, ought to be criticised as well. In fact, the much-hailed ‘w in-win’ constellations of sustainable development often just provide for ecological and economic, but hardly ever for social gains. 2 The main reasons for this unequal treatment of the three pillars are, on the one hand, the fact that such equality does not exist in the real world, that economic arguments often tend to be more convincing, and that the equal ranking of priorities is rarely an issue in the political context. But there are also some conceptu al problems, which still remain to be solved: What does ‘equal’ mean? How can ‘equal importa nce’ be assigned? What about trade-offs between the different components? So far, th ese questions have only produced heuristic assumptions, benchmarks, guidelines , and discursive premises. A more detailed look at this metaphor reveal s some additional conceptual shortcomings. While the idea of the ‘three pillars’ is not really in dispute, the same cannot always be said for key objectives, operationalisation, and the defin ition of indicators within the three pillars. Ecological objectives seem to be the least disputed, followe d by economic goals, but there is clearly a lot more disagreement about the definition of the main social objectives of sustainable development (Omann and Spangenberg, 2002). In cas e of objectives and indicators, it seems to depend on who defined them. Often, they comp rise a theoretically unfounded selection of assumptions, goals, and indicators of socio-political provenance. Especially with regard to the social dimension it still appears to be rather unclear what ‘social matters’ really means and what kind of dynamics and breaks exist therein (cf. Empacher and Wehling, 1999; Kopfmliller et aI., 2001, p.67; Grief31er and Littig, 2004). Somewhat more differentiated, is the approach that tries to see sustainability as a social learning proce ss. While in the beginning, social matters were deemed to be of little importance or merely a rela ted issue as in the one-pillar models, at least the scientific community has, over time, come to assign equal impo rtance to social and economic aspects as well (Grunwald et aI., 200 I, p.55; Weidner and Brandl, 2001, pAl). However, it is a rather long way from scientific insights to the actual implementation in national strategies, where ideas are also subject to the usual deformations and selectivity of the political process. The political process often simplifies, reduces, and changes the initial focus. Therefore it is necessary to
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68 B. Littig and E. Grießler differentiate – both analytically and conceptually – between the more scientific sustainability studies or the processes of defining indicators and the sustainability strategies developed at a political level (Deutscher Bundestag, 1998). 3 2 Social sustainability concepts An analysis of selected national and internationa l social sustainability concepts shows that the selection of indicators frequently is not founded in theory but rather in a practical understanding of plausibility and current political agendas (Gri el3ler and Littig, 2004). This is also due to the fact that a clear theoretical concept of social sustainability is still missing. Many such concepts may remain implicit as they are somewhat concealed behind a seemi ngly random choice of common socio-political indicators. They also define social sustainability in different ways (social standards, institu tional sustainability, democratic right s). Moreover, the relationships and connections between social, economic, and ecological sustainability continue to be quite unclear in many cases. The three dimensions are often given different priorities, and they are placed roughly next to one another without being integrat ed into a whole. The results of the analysis confirm the frequent statements about sustainabi lity being a rather vague concept, and there is still a lot of work to be done in defining it properly (Becker et aI., 1999, pA).4 One reason for that may be that this concept is expected to be able to link environmental protection with social equity, which is clearly a great challenge both from a theoretical and a practical point of view: “Sustainable development might best be char acterised as a contested discursive field which allows for the articulation of politi cal and economic differences between North and South and introduces to environmental i ssues a concern with social justice and political participation.” (Beck er et aI., 1999, p.l) This can also be problematic insofar as the peop le involved may assign different priorities to the environment and social equity. One example for this is Wackemagel’s critical comment on the Environmental Sustainability Index by the World Economic Forum, in which he attempts to reduce sustainability to ecological sustainability: “Human health aspects are essential for the well-being of a society, but they should not be confused with environmental sust ainability.” (Wackerna gel, 2001, p.2) With reference to the UCSD indicators (CSD, 1996), however, one can certainly claim that people’s health is indeed direct ly connected with sustainabil ity. Hodge and Hardi (1997, p.7) also state that the sustainability of social a nd ecological systems shoul d be equally important within the sustainability concept: “In general terms the idea of sustainability is the persistence of certain necessary and desired characteristics of people, thei r communities and organisations, and the surrounding ecosystem over a very long peri od of time (indefinitely). Achieving progress toward sustainability thus implies maintaining a nd preferably improving, both human and ecosystem wellbeing, not one at the expense of the other. The idea expresses the interdependence between people and the surrounding world.”
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Social sustainability 69 Yet even if the social dimension of sustainability is in fact acknowledged, it will still be necessary to define what social sustainability means. (Biart, 2002, p.6), for instance, points out that long-term development only calls for a minimum of social requi rements and therefore suggests a rather narrow definition: “A final point to pay attention to is the confusion which may arise between desirability and sustainability. The Brundtland objective l eads, indeed easily, to focusing on how to increase welfare so that the various genera tions can meet their needs. This opens the way to discussions of policies, which may be desirable to optimise development. The sustainability approach is, however, less embr acing. It aims to determine the minimal social requirements for long-term development (sometimes called critical social capital) and to identify the challenges to th e very functioning of society in the long run.” The difficulties in conceptualising social sustainability are also due to the fact that there is no clear differentiation between the analytical, normative, and political aspects thereof and that people may prioritise one over anot her. One reason for this problem can already be found in the broad and multi-faceted connotation of the word ‘s ocial’, which has an analytical as well as a normative meaning. Sustainability demands that development can no longer be seen without its natural prerequisites, as it is inseparably connected with the reproduction thereof. And this is indeed a deeply socio-scientific subject matter, not just a question of natural sciences. It is no longer deemed sufficient to meet the standards defined by the natural sciences; the social processes which shape a society’s interactions and relationships with ‘nature’ need to be analysed as well. Therefore, the socio-scientific question in this context is: how can societies regulate and change their processes and structures so as to ensure the chances for development of future generations? Sebastian Brandl, for instance, define s sustainability as the relationship between the social and ecological systems, which needs to be shaped in such a way that it will not destabilise the system as a whole: “From a system-theoretical point of view, this approach aims to uphold both the functionality and the resilience of linked sub-systems, thus keeping the whole system stable.” (Brandl, 2002, p.13, trans!. by the authors) This analytical aspect of social sustainability, however, is not to be understood as an attempt to claim a justified minimum level of social right s and defend them against the primacy of neo- liberal economic policy and/or the ecological prim acy originating in the social sciences. It should, on the contrary, help exam ine those social structures and processes, which influence the metabolic exchange between society and na ture (Fischer-Kowalski and Haberl, 1993). Considering the origins of the sustainability appr oach, the inclusion of the ecological dimension of social processes is in fact a constitutive element. But an exclusive focus on social processes that do have an effect on the society-nature re lationship may cause various other aspects to be left out. This turns out to be somewhat of a dilemma in multi-pillar models: Should the main focus continue to be placed on the environment as the dominant factor, which all research, all conceptual considerations need to be based on? Or can the idea of multi-dimensionality be adapted and extended in such a way that it will also be possible to examine social or economic processes and/or to define crit eria and objectives that go bey ond a purely ecological dimension? Within the scope of system-theor etical considerations or the id ea that economic, ecological, and cultural factors are to be seen as resources (s ee Section 1.2), one has no choice but to question first, the sustainability of the social aspects themselves before moving on to ecological or other kinds of interactions and relationships.
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70 B. Littig and E. Grießler This makes sustainability quite a challenge for the social sciences, as sustainability research is not just about ‘natural’ processes but also about understanding social processes that concern society’s interactions with nature. “Thus environmental sustainability turns out to be closely linked to supposedly ‘internal’ problems of social structure, su ch as social justice, gender equality and political participation ( ) In this sense, sustainability describes a topic of research that is basically social, addressing virtually the entire ‘process by which societies manage the material conditi ons of their reproduction, including the social, economic, political and cultural principles that guide the distribution of environmental resources.” (Becker et aI., 1999, pA) Considering this, it seems to be even more importa nt now to overcome the current lack of a theory concerning social sustainability, since without such a theory it is cl early impossible to assign priorities to social process control mechanisms: “Developing and using a clear conceptual framework for guiding the assessment process is very important. With a conceptual framework in place, indicators emerge more naturally, and can be adjusted to the needs of a given locale or set of decision makers.” (Hodge and Hardi, 1997, p. 10) Unfortunately, this aspect of social sustainab ility has hitherto been widely disregarded. While the analytical aspect is certainly significant, the normative aspect of social sustainability is truly imperative, as it is necessary to set sta ndards on how our society ought to develop and what ideals social development should strive for: “At the same time sustainability introduces a set of normative commitments to the development problematic. A call for justice is being made on behalf of future generations.” (Becker et aI., 1999, p.5) The question whether social sustainability is an analytical or a normative concept cannot be answered with one or the other, but rather with ‘both’. Socio- scientific analyses of how important social values such as participation, equal opportunities, justice, etc. can be conductive to sustainable development provide some strong arguments in the debate about sustainability and the fight for these rights. One should not forget, though, that these values are le gitimate in themselves, and not because of their positive effect on sustainability. Social sustainabil ity should furthermore be guided by an analytical concept that provides a sound theory regarding the relationship between society and nature. In any case, sustainability strategies and indicators should ha ve both: analytical depth and clarity as well as clearly defined ideas about what kind of social values should be attained through sustainable development. 3 On the conception of social sustainability: sustainable development and the relationships between society and nature 3.1 Defining social sustainability This chapter is an attempt to remedy the apparent lack of sociological theory in the conception of social sustainability. We start from the specific use of the term ‘needs’ in the Brundtland definition of sustainability, which conceptualises the interplay of society and nature in a rather simplistic way: Sustainable development is
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72 B. Littig and E. Grießler The cultural system includes all cultural practices and interpretation patterns of a society, which find expression in lifestyles and life forms, social orders and the legitimacy thereof (e.g., gend er order, dealing with othern ess), moral concepts, religion, etc. The cultural practices and interpretation patterns inherent to different societies are highly divergent and subject to change over time. They represent the framework within which economic and political processes are formed and legitimised. Modern societies are working societies, whose exchanges with nature, i.e., the measurable material flows, are many times more and/or higher than they were in earlier forms of society (Fischer-Kowalski and Haberl, 1993). However, work in modern working societies is not just a means to use nature and to ensure people’s liv elihood and the satisfaction of their needs, but rather – especially in the case of gainful employment – the primary means to stratify and structure society and organise individual live s (Senghaas-Knobloch, 1998). Working society is a product of the modern era, and it stands out for the fact that it ranks paid work higher than many reproductive activities that are part of peopl e’s lives (Littig, 2001, p.68). The gender-based division of labour, with the resulting gender arrangement in families as well as the form of welfare provided by the government, is one of the main characteristics of modern working societies and their position and interactions at a global level (Pfau-Effinger, 2000). However, social sustainability is not only an analytical but also a normative concept, since the idea of sustainability contains three esse ntial normative social principles, which were initially mentioned in the documents agreed upon at the UN Conference for Environment and Development (UNCED) 1992 in Rio: everyone has the right to lead a decent life, social justice (inter-generational, intra-generational and international), participation of all relevant stakeholders. Summarising our arguments, we suggest defining social sustainability as follows: Social sustainability is a quality of societies. It signifies the nature-society relationships, mediated by work, as well as relationships within the society. Social sustainability is given, if work within a society and the rela ted institutional arrangements satisfy an extended set of human needs are shaped in a way that nature and its repr oductive capabiliti es are preserved over a long period of time and the normative claims of soci al justice, human dignity and participation are fulfilled. The aforesaid considerations are illustrated in Figure 1 3.2 Work as a key concept of social sustainability Clearly, sustainability as a normative principle fo r the regulation of socio-ecological processes, initially focuses on the social management of na tural resources, which should in the long term (future generations) ensure the equal distributio n of resources and thus the long-term provision of the basic ecological requireme nts for social reproduction. As suming that the relationships between society and nature are currently not sustainable, i.e., that they will not last, a re- orientation of economy, politics and culture – according to the understanding of such relationships expounded earlier in this paper – w ill be absolutely necessary to get us onto the road to sustainable development.
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Social sustainability 73 Figure 1 Schematic portrayal of sustainable developmen t and the relationships between society and nature From this perspective, a re-regu lation of socio-ecological relatio nships should take account of both the dynamics of social change as well as th e dynamics of ecological systems. Thus the focus is not really on the preservation of existing stru ctures or qualities, but rather on socio-ecological transformation, which cannot be easily predicted or estimated (cf. Becker et aI., 1999, p.6). In view of such uncertainty, and due to the comple xity and dynamics of social change, it would clearly be fatal to choose only one way to attain sustainability. It seems to be much more reasonable to analyse a variety of non-sustainable developm ents, based on which a number of different paths towards sustaina ble development can then be se lected (e.g., Reusswig, 1998). Furthermore, this would also allow for some alternatives from the south as opposed to the dominant western/northern sustainability m odels (Shiva, 1989; Braidotti et aI., 1994). Nevertheless, the development pa ths should not be chosen randomly, but in keeping with the main normative principles of sustainability. In accordance with the already mentioned normative principles of sustainability, the current global socio-ecological crisis will most likely be overcome by changing the predominant (northern) modes of production a nd consumption, which are clearly harmful to the environment. This perspective also casts doubts on the social organisation principles central to (Post-) Ford ist working societies with their inherent mass production and (compensational) mass consumpti on (Littig, 200 I; Hildebrandt, 1999,2003).9 All this leads us to the following conclusi ons concerning the conception of socially sustainable development: One important starting poi nt in this context must clearly be the re- organisation of work in our society and, connected to that, of all forms of social welfare (DIW et aI., 2000; HBS,I 2001; Brandl and Hildebrandt, 2002). The strong emphasis on work in the existing working societies still n eeds to be taken into account; not just with regard to securing people’s incomes, but also with regard to the psycho-social functions of gainful employment (time structure, identity, etc.), citizens’ integratio n (due to the high social status of paid work), and the significance of paid labour for soci al cohesion (Senghaas-Knobloch, 1998; Bosch, 1998). It is furthermore,
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74 B. Littig and E. Grießler absolutely necessary to pay special attention to the situation of women, not least because gender mainstreaming – with its clear and extensive de mand for the equal treatment of both genders in social, economic and legal matters – is listed as one of the key goals in official sustainability documents (Chapter 24 of Agenda 21, cf. Unite d Nations, 1992). The ecologisation of existing employment should be given top priority in the re -structuring process. If feminist analyses of the gender-based division of labour are to be taken seriously, securing (part-time) employment and creating new (environmentally compatible) jobs will surely be conducive to the further integration of women into the labour market (cf. contributions in: Stolz-Willig and Veil, 1999). Considering both the demand for socio-ecological su stainability as well as the feminist demand for a gender-sensible distribution oflabour, a sustai nable working society w ill at least require the ecologisation of existing employment and the creation of new, environmentally sound jobs, so as to ensure the environmenta lly, socially, and health-friendly provision of goods and services the gender-sensible re-distribution of all the work that needs to be carried out in society, so that everyone can have a sufficient income from useful and publicly accepted work (e.g., by means of shorter working hours, childcare facilities, work-life balance for men and women, economising care work, etc.) the freedom to choos e at any stage in life between different forms of work (work arrangements, field of work) or lifest yles, while being at all times entitled to individual social security. In order to fulfil these requirements, the formal economy will have to be expanded in a socially and economically compatible ma nner, although environmentally sound practices are sometimes deemed to be more easily promoted in the informal sectors of economy and in non- governmental organisations than in formal economy and politics (see also Becker, 1998; Wichterich, 2000). This proposed conception of su stainable work is similar to the concept of ‘mixed work’ developed in the German inte rdisciplinary research project ‘Work and Environment’ (‘Arbeit und Okologie’) (DIW et aI., 2000; HBS, 2001; Hildebrandt, 2003). Mixed work, which is introduced by this project as a ne w, ideal type of full-time employment, is taken to be essential for social sustainability; it is expected to open up new opportunities and provide additional ways to ensure social welfare. The concept of mixed work takes up basic transformation processes in our existing working society and demands a normative (= focusing on sustainability) but at the same time realistic (= attainable by means of socio-ecological reforms) extension of the predominant defin ition of gainful employment. Besides gainful employment, mixed work should also include unpaid work, care work, and community work, and it should replace the existing – and alread y rather ‘eroded’ – standard employment relationships (cf. HBS, 200 I, p.30). Even now, mixed work is already carried out by a large and continuously growing number of people, although the quality of life it en tails is subject to variation and depends on how this type of w,ork is treated at a political level. Mixed work, as it was proposed by the aforesaid project, results in mixed incomes (from different fields of work) and requires mixed skills (which are necessary to meet the requirements of different working areas). According to the project partners, a re-o rganisation of employment on the basis of an extended definition of work is essential for the implementation of social sustainability.
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Social sustainability 3 .3 On indicators of social sustainability 75 Based on these sociological considerations, we suggest a set of three core indicators to assess the social dimensions of sustainabi lity.’o The first group is, dealing with the satisfaction of basic needs and the quality of life. Th ese indicators should relate to individual income, poverty, income distribution, unemployment, education and further training, housing conditions, health (private as well as at one’s workplace), security, as well as subjective satisfaction with work, health, housing, income and the envi ronment. The other two sets of core indicators relate to the claim of social justice within the sustainability discourse as well as social coherence. A narrow concept of social justice indica tes, merely, justice regarding the distribution of economic goods (e.g., income); a broader philosophical defin ition also implies equal opportunity regarding quality of life and participation in society (Nussbaum and Sen, 2002; Lamer, 2004). Thus, the second group of indicators is dealing with equa l opportunities, the single indicators relating to equal opportunities in education a nd further education, gender equi ty and migrants. The third set of core indicators relates to the aspect of social coherence and suggest s measurement of, e.g., integration into social networks, involvement in activities as vol unteers as well as measures for solidarity and tolerant attitudes (e.g., towards migrants, unemployed, gays and queers). However, to suggest social sustainability indicators that are drawn from sociological theory is one story. To incorporate them into policy-ma king and to have an impact is another one. One alternative is to integrate them into periodic adjustments of national and international sustainability strategies. These are declaratio ns of political intent, which in order to be measurable, must be combined with quantitativ e and qualitative targets, policy instruments and budgets. This requires political ba rgaining processes with broad st akeholder participation (see Section 1.2). In the context of sustainability st rategies, the main function of indicators is to monitor relevant policies; the function of (social) sciences is provision of evaluation and advice. Furthermore, to take the notion of equity, rega rding the pillars of su stainability, seriously, means to really integrate the ecological, the soci al and the economic dimensions. In this sense, progress in sustainability can onl y mean improvement in all the three dimensions. For example, it is not sufficient as a political target and contribution to economic and social sustainability to create and maintain employment; these jobs must also add to ecological sustainability. Otherwise the equity claim of ecological, economic and so cial sustainability rema ins window dressing (see Section 1.2). 4 Outlook: social sustainability (European) social policy and the need for further research The proposed focus on (paid) work in a gender-sensible conception of social sustainability provides various starting points, yet it also repr esents a great challenge with regard to the widespread crisis of national social policies and the changes which are necessary to overcome it. The main focus in (European) social sustainabi lity policy should be pl aced on devising and implementing effective and coordi nated measures to promote and ensure employment for all citizens (i.e., for men and women). In this connec tion, an increase in public investment – e.g., in social infrastructure, health and care, envir onmentally sound urban re-development and traffic planning, environmentally
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