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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Sustainability and sustainable development have become hegemonic frames shaping the ways in which national governments and international bodies conceptualize eco-political issues and devise related policy agendas. Yet, a consensus is emerging that this mainstream approach is unable to deliver the kind of structural change that is required if serious social conflicts and ecological collapse are to be prevented. This contribution explores why the paradigm of sustainability is widely perceived to have failed and why it, nevertheless, retains its hegemonic status. Aiming to supplement well-known explanations in terms of power-relations and denial, the chapter investigates how a shift in prevalent norms of subjectivity and identity has facilitated the metamorphosis of the sustainability agenda into the prevailing politics of unsustainability—which, rather than being exhausted, very effectively addresses the particular needs of liberal consumer societies.

Keywords: unsustainability, denial, consumer societies, subjectivity, identity

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