Subject: Social Sciences, Geography, Planning And Development Keywords: circular economy; social ecology; consumerism; dialectical naturalism; mining
Online: 12 September 2016 (09:55:09 CEST)
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.