Sustainability politics: an unending work of composition.

Gert Goeminne

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The general aim of my research project of which this paper is a part, is to conceive of sustainability as a genuinely political concept, open to struggle and contestation, in this way constituting an essential component of social change. The underlying starting point is that the current sustainable development policy approach of 'rational decision making' inherently rejects a plurality of socio-environmental visions, invoking a conception of both science and politics that is characterized by rationalism and universalism. As opposed to this essentialist belief in a rationally attainable consensus without exclusion, this paper puts forward the constitutive role of exclusion in the emergence of both natural and social order. Invoking Bruno Latour's constructivist approach, I will change focus from a representationalist understanding to a practice-inspired account of science in which the composition of a matter of fact necessarily implies a politically significant differentiation between internalities and externalities. This, I will argue, is a first and necessary step towards a renewed understanding of sustainability politics as being constituted by an adversarial struggle over who and what is to be taken into account, a struggle that is ultimately based on the idea that every composition, including a scientific one, excludes and differentiates.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Development and Global Community
EditorsG. Lasker, K Hiwaki
PublisherWindsor: IIAS.
ISBN (Print)978-1-897233-93-1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Lasker, G. and Hiwaki, K,


  • sustainability politics
  • matters of concern
  • composition
  • science and technology studies (STS)


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