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Backcasting for Sustainable Employment: A Hungarian Experience

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Author(s): Alexandra Köves | Gábor Király | György Pataki | Bálint Balázs

Journal: Sustainability
ISSN 2071-1050

Volume: 5;
Issue: 7;
Start page: 2991;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: backcasting | ecological modernization | Hungary | sustainable employment | transition management | radical change paradigm

ABSTRACT
Sustainability and employment are terms seldom used together. Especially when defining sustainability in the stricter sense of the word, delineating a world where strong sustainability is the norm, it is problematic to deduct which elements may compose sustainable employment. In the relevant discourse, two distinct directions can be identified. Ecological modernization promises “quick fixes” to employment problems while reducing environmentally harmful economic activities without initiating major changes either in our ways of thinking or in our way of living. At the same time, the radical change paradigm disposes of the concepts of the free market society and believes that new “great transformations” are unavoidable, whereby values must change just as much as institutions. Yet, how far have these normative theoretical approaches penetrated our everyday thinking? The paper builds upon the experience of a backcasting project on sustainable employment conducted in Hungary in 2012 and early 2013 and suggests that when people are given the chance to leave the path dependencies of today behind and imagine a sustainable future, their normative visions provide us with invaluable insight as to what may constitute sustainable employment. It also contributes towards our understanding of which policy tools lead us towards a more sustainable world of work in particular and a more sustainable society in general.
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