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The German Research Foundation (DFG) network SONA – the voice of sociology in the sustainability debate

The German Research Foundation (DFG) network SONA – the voice of sociology in the sustainability debateThe German Research Foundation (DFG) network SONA – the voice of sociology in the sustainability debate

Sustainability is not just an ecological issue, but also a social one. The DFG-funded ‘SONA – The Sociology of Sustainability’ Academic Network brings a sociological perspective to the debate.

Sustainability – where does this term come from? What’s behind it? Which social issues does it encompass? Professor Anna Henkel is convinced that sociology can make a substantial contribution to this topic. The researcher holds the University of Passau’s Chair of Sociology of Technology and Sustainable Development.

In 2017, she initiated the DFG-funded ‘SONA – The Sociology of Sustainability’ Academic Network. It brings together sociologists from a variety of different subfields in order to incorporate a sociological perspective within the debate surrounding sustainability.

‘Sustainability is a social issue. The debate is currently still too focused on ecological and technical aspects, as can be seen in the discussion on reducing CO2 emissions. And yet technical innovations in particular play a great role in social practises. Sustainability also affects issues surrounding social inequality’, says Professor Henkel. She believes that sociology’s great strength is to externally observe social processes, describe them and highlight connections. ‘We want to make the diversity of sociology into fertile ground for the sustainability debate.’

This specifically sociological perspective is defined by the following points:

  • A broad definition of sustainability. For example, this includes ecological modernisation, social division and global sustainability objectives. ‘Some of the definitions of sustainability are strongly contradictory. We want to uncover and analyse these&