The multiple directions of social progress: ways forward

Wright, Erik Olin, Folbre, Nancy, Andersson, Jenny, Hearn, Jeff, Himmelweit, Susan and Stirling, Andrew (2018) The multiple directions of social progress: ways forward. In: IPSP International Panel on Social Progress, (ed.) Rethinking society for the 21st Century: report of the International Panel on Social Progress. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 815-846. ISBN 9781108423144

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This chapter engages with three important themes of the larger report: the meaning of progress, its uneven nature, and obstacles to future progress. It also considers a number of political and economic alternatives aimed to overcome these obstacles, emphasizing the need for diverse strategies, open-minded experimentation, and scientific assessment. While it may be impossible to ever reach agreement, the effort to calibrate different interpretations of progress remains an important exercise for political deliberation about how to make the world a better place. The very hope of moving forward implies some agreement on a destination. All of us must take responsibility for the future. Our discussion emphasizes the complexity and multidimensionality of the interpretive debate, but also calls attention to its ideological character. Social actors-individuals, groups, and even academic disciplines-tend to define progress in ways that serve their own interests. In a way, distributional conflict undermines our very efforts to better understand and mediate such conflict. The uneven character of progress is manifest in many different domains. Increases in the global reach of formally democratic institutions have been accompanied by growing concerns about their stability, efficacy, and consistency with democratic ideals.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Depositing User: Andrew Stirling
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2018 08:51
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2021 15:58

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