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Sustainable Development (Routledge Introductions to Environment: Environment and Society Texts) [Paperback]

Susan Baker

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Book Description

15 Dec 2005 041528211X 978-0415282116 New Ed

The promotion of sustainable development opens up the debates surrounding our relationship with the natural world, what constitutes social progress, and the character of development in the present and into the future. Answering the need for an introductory, comprehensive, yet critical book that explores the challenges involved in the implementation of sustainable development, this revealing text investigates this subject across different socio-political and economic contexts. It combines an examination of the institutional engagement with sustainable development at a global level, with an empirically informed discussion on challenges facing high consumption societies, economies in transition and third world countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable development.

Recognizing that promoting sustainable development is a quintessentially global task, the book focuses on the authoritative Brundtland formulation of sustainable development and the role of the United Nations Summits in promoting this vision. The empirical focus of the book is complemented by strong conceptual discussions as sustainable development is explored as part of new efforts, albeit tentative, to integrate environmental, economic and (more recently) social considerations into a new development paradigm.

Providing an accessible, up-to-date and comprehensive treatment of the issues surrounding the promotion of sustainable development, this unique, internationally-focused book combines a strong conceptual analysis, with wide ranging empirical focus and a wealth of case material. Including summary points and suggestions for further reading, as well as web resources and an extensive bibliography, it is ideal for students, scholars and researchers in the fields of environmental sciences, politics, sociology and development studies.

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3.0 out of 5 stars Needs Expansion, Less Jargon 17 April 2008
By H. Burtney - Published on
Usually Routledge prints high quality materials, but in this case I found Susan Baker's book 'Sustainable Development' to be an exception to the rule

The book begins in good spirits with a theoretical overview of sustainable development, which includes its basic origins, history (e.g. Brundtland report), what sustainable development means, and basic definitions of common terms. However, the remaining sections of the book are less appealing for the reason that Baker needlessly mingles her prose with the kind of "socio-economic" jargon that causes our heads to spin. As an intro text, I would assume the concepts broached could be handled in a more introductory and down to earth fashion. Perhaps I am alone in this view, but whenever I witness such jargon laden prose, I interpret it as the mark of poor writing trying to masquerade as good writing. Moreover, to intentionally use acrolectic jargon when simpler terms could be used is just plain irritating--why? Because jargon obscures and veils meaning, and is being used simply to "talk-up" what the writer otherwise fears might sound banal and plain. Baker suffers from this tendency throughout and it makes for difficult (and ultimately mediocre) writing that obscures the importance and seriousness of its subject.

This isn't to say, however, that we cannot learn from Baker's text. Surely we can, but my point is that she hasn't eased the transition and exchange of dialogue between the important concepts and the reader.

Even though the lack of breadth and brevity with which things are presented leaves much to be desired, we shouldn't blame Baker for all the book's shortcomings. When I say this isn't Baker's fault I am being sincere, since a) this is a relatively new book and area of academic research, and b) she appears to have worked alone on the book without help from others. I assume that as further editions are printed, revisions and additions will be added in order to create a more complete work.

So, can we blame Baker for not being completely right the first time around? Absolutely not, since she does do some things well (historical surveys, terminological overviews, and relevance to the present). But we still ought to be aware of certain irritating tendencies (jargon laden prose) and oversights (lack of breadth, if not depth) that commonly appear throughout the work.
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