Sustainable development: a narcissistic strategy to cope with the environmental crisis?

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Abstract

This article analyzes the institutionalization of the discourse of sustainable development (SD) for more than three decades and its development as a symbolic structure that influences subjectivity and social practices in this century. Embracing an interdisciplinary approach, it focuses on a debate between psychoanalysis, attentive to the ways in wich discontent is manifested, and the ideas of risk society and reflexive modernization, from social risk theory. The analysis of the SD discourse allows to frame it as a narcissistic strategy to cope with the environmental crisis. Such a strategy structures itself in the very preservation of existence at the same time that it disputes a constant process of defining which way of life populations should live and how human conduct should be guided. As a discourse that denies finitude, supported by the need for efficiency and technological development in order to avoid the end of resources, this narcissistic strategy may ultimately lay the foundation of human and environmental exhaustion.

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de Araujo, A. K., & Di Giulio, G. M. (2020). Sustainable development: a narcissistic strategy to cope with the environmental crisis? Ambiente e Sociedade, 23, 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1590/1809-4422ASOC20190050R3VU2020L6AO

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