(CNRS, University of Paris)
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Commentary PDF - J. Salomon Cavin (University of Lausanne)
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Taking Sartre’s philosophy as a starting point, our paper is both theoretical and action oriented. It aims to promote the development of adequate scientific practices required by the sustainable development utopia. To this end, it is written as a manifesto designed to stimulate debate and controversy. It attempts a review of all that is being said and done in the name of sustainable development in the political domain as well as that of the relation between social sciences and politics. This paper calls for a consideration of the difficulties, and even the impossibilities, of moving “from the utopia to the concepts”. Introducing and articulating the almost contradictory dimensions of sustainability in real urban territory demands the development of a relevant method in order to investigate this complex object. We propose the concept of a “socially sustainable milieu” in order to reach this objective which requires the interdisciplinary pairing of physical and social sciences. Modelling and GIS must be associated with anthropological methods. Above all, this paper underlines the need to set “inhabitants” at the heart of the scientific project. This reverses the usual focus by starting with an investigation of the way each individual reconciles the “three pillars” of sustainable development and builds their own relationship with sustainable urban milieus. This may help bypass the still top-down views of governance and enable scientists to contribute to developing the political sustainable utopia in real sites and situations.