Rewriting the bases of capitalism: Reflexive modernity and ecological sustainability as the foundations of a new normative framework [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 47 (4):299 - 314 (2003)
Abstract
The debate on sustainable globalized development rests on two clearly stated economic assumptions: that "development" proceeds, solely and inevitably, through industrialization and the proliferation of capital intensive high-technology, towards the creation of service sector economies; and that globalization, based on a neoliberal, capitalist, free market ideology, provides the only vehicle for such development. Sustainability, according to the proponents of globalized development, is merely a function of market forces, which will generate the solutions for all problems including the environmental dilemmas that loom over the globe today. The social focus of globalized development is clearly the "individual" and the much-touted goal of development in the context of these debates, is the emancipation of the individual from want. This glorification of the individual, so characteristic of the Enlightenment, has defined all aspects of modernity, leading to approaches that are self-focused and that give little thought to the needs of society or even the social context. The increasing impoverishment of human life and the growing environmental degradation, however, provide a poignant counterpoint to this onrush of capital interests, demanding a reassessment of sustainability separate from the logic of industrialization and globalized development. This paper examines the unfolding of the logic of capitalism, which underlies the structure of the Rostowian model of development and the problems in the assumptions underlying today''s globalized development process. The evident impossibility of sustainability in the current growth-based market system leads to the examination of alternatives including a reflexive understanding of the choices and the inclusion of opportunity costs, related to the social, environmental and economic aspects of decision making. The integration of all factors of production into the logic of development provides a sustainable alternative to the current system
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