Preprint Essay Version 1 NOT YET PEER-REVIEWED

The Challenging Shift to a Circular Economy: The Relevance of Social Ecology in Effective Transition

  1. Chair in Sustainable Resource Development, University of Queensland, St Lucia QLD 4072, Australia
Version 1 : Received: 9 September 2016 / Approved: 12 September 2016 / Online: 12 September 2016 (09:55:09 CEST)

How to cite: Ali, S. The Challenging Shift to a Circular Economy: The Relevance of Social Ecology in Effective Transition. Preprints 2016, 2016090040 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201609.0040.v1). Ali, S. The Challenging Shift to a Circular Economy: The Relevance of Social Ecology in Effective Transition. Preprints 2016, 2016090040 (doi: 10.20944/preprints201609.0040.v1).

Abstract

The concept of a "circular economy" needs a more cogent theoretical anchor which will allow for transference of its goals and methods of attainment across cases. Tensions between ecological goals of this concept and the social implications of its implementation need to be addressed. This paper attempts to provide a theoretical framework for harnessing the strengths of a circular economy. Building on theories of social ecology which are predicated in Murray Bookchin's notion of "dialectical naturalism", the analysis presented here addresses some of the criticism of circular economic paradigms, such as their potential for stifling innovation or a neglect of human development challenges. A model for managing human "need" and "greed" within a circular economy framework is presented that also incorporates consumer choice and innovation. Planned obsolescence as a means of livelihood generation is also problematized with a view towards balancing durability of products on the one hand and ensuring throughput for manufacturing employment and innovation incentives on the other. Finally, the need for governance systems is considered to ensure that a planetary vision for a circular economy can be realized that efficiently harnesses local initiatives rather than an atomized and insular view
of circularity.

Subject Areas

circular economy; social ecology; consumerism; dialectical naturalism; mining

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