Much of the debate over sustainable development revolves around how to balance the competing demands of economic development, social well-being, and environmental protection. “Jobs vs. environment” is only one of the many forms that such struggles take. But what if the very terms of this debate are part of the problem? Reimagining Livelihoods argues that the “hegemonic trio” of economy, society, and environment not only fails to describe the actual world around us but poses a tremendous obstacle to enacting a truly sustainable future.
Deepening ecological crisis alongside a half century of widening inequality and economic instability are evidence that Business as Usual cannot go on. Transformation is required, particularly in the realm of corporate activity, the business of business. Shareholder primacy is a powerful social norm that constrains transformation. It positions publicly traded corporations as compelled by competitive necessity and bound by law to place shareholder returns first.
Written for the forthcoming Thinking in the World Reader (Bloomsbury Press), his chapter seeks to challenge and think beyond a key blockage in contemporary life: the conventional distinction between economy and ecology. As we argue, the distinction between these two domains severs us from transformative, ethically-infused encounters with our constitutive interdependencies. We explore one possible way to affirm and expand the politicization of this interdependence: a notion of "ecological livelihoods" linked with an ethics and politics of commoning.