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Local perceptions and definitions of social sustainability: An illustration of Trollhättan municipality
University West, School of Business, Economics and IT, Division of Urban Planing and Development. (LINA)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3009-9745
2022 (English)In: International Conference on Work Integrated Learning: Abstract Book, Trollhättan: University West , 2022, p. 60-61Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

More than thirty years after the publication of the the Brundtland report “Our Common Future” (World Commission on Environmental and Development, 1987), the social dimension of sustainability remains theoretically underdeveloped. Sweden has since the adoption of the Global Sustainable Development Goals set out to take a leading role in the implementation of these goals. Granted that Swedish municipalitie s enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy and thus provide citizens with a majority of public services, municipalities are central to the realization of national commitments to international agreements such as the Global Sustainable Development Goals. Consequently, part of the national strategy for realization of the Global Sustainable Development Goals consists of support to municipalities in developing local strategies for implementation of the goals. Previous research on policy implementation highlights the importance of the policy formulation stage for successful implementation of policy (Winter and Nielsen, 2008, Winter, 1986, Bardach, 1977). With the social dimension of sustainability left rather vague and undefined on the international and national level, municipalities are likely to face some challenges both in translating the social dimension of sustainability into local goals but also in the realization of these. Some researchers argue that it is necessary to differentiate between scientific sustainability studies and processes of defining sustainability at the political level (Griessler and Littig, 2005). On the contrary, I argue that one way of developing the concept of social sustainability theoretically could be to study these practical political processes of defining social aspects of sustainability. The aim of this research is thus to explore and understand the complexity of the social sustainability concept in the local context of a municipality in Sweden. This study is part of a collaborative project on sustainable societal development between University West and Trollhättan municipality. The study is designed as an explorative case study of Trollhättan municipality, in which I use theories on policy implementation and social sustainability to conduct a qualitative content analysis of policy documents. In addition to policy documents, I have also included field notes from participant observations from meetings and workshops at Trollhättan municipality during the time-period January-November 2022. The preliminary results of the analysis indicate that Trollhättan municipality understands sustainability as threedimensional consisting of ecological, economic, and social sustainability. Social sustainability is understood as an important dimension in its own right and not merely as a means to support the ecological dimension. The link between the social aspects and the ecological aspects of sustainability is fairly weak. In terms of substantive social sustainability, the local social sustainability strategy has a focus on housing, employment, gender quality, health, and well-being. The understanding of the procedural aspects of social sustainability in Trollhättan is centered around creating pre-conditions, possibilities, and opportunities for social sustainability rather than reaching social sustainability in itself. There is an emphasis on inhabitant participation, but this aspect is not yet clearly defined in terms of how this participation is to be facilitated. The social dimension of sustainable development remains vague and undefined. With this study I exp lore the possibility of using a work-integrated learning approach in order to contribute to the theoretical development of the social dimension of sustainable development. I suggest that one way of gaining a deeper understanding of social sustainability as a concept is to study the practice of formulating, designing, and implementing policy at the level closest to the people affected by it. In Sweden this is the municipal level. This study aims to contribute both to sustainability research, research on public administration and policy implementation as well as work-integrated learning. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Trollhättan: University West , 2022. p. 60-61
Keywords [en]
social sustainability; policy formulation; policy implementation; work-integrated learning
National Category
Pedagogy Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified Learning
Research subject
Work Integrated Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hv:diva-19562ISBN: 9789189325302 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hv-19562DiVA, id: diva2:1725601
Conference
WIL'22 International Conference on Work Integrated Learning, 7-9 December 2022, University West, Trollhättan, Sweden
Note

The general theme of the conference is: “WIL in the service of society”

Available from: 2023-01-11 Created: 2023-01-11 Last updated: 2023-03-15Bibliographically approved

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Karlsson, Erika

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