UPSC MAINS SOCIOLOGY SYLLABUS
Chapter 10 – Social Change in Modern Society:
(a) Sociological theories of social change.
(b) Development and dependency.
(c) Agents of social change.
(d) Education and social change.
(e) Science, technology and social change.
The circular economy is a new way of creating value, and ultimately prosperity. It works by extending product lifespan through improved design and servicing, and relocating waste from the end of the supply chain to the beginning—in effect, using resources more efficiently by using them over and over, not only once. A key part of the circular economy is improving resource efficiency during production.
PILLARS OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY
- Materials are cycled at continuous high value. A priority is placed on preserving material complexity, by cascading materials in their most complex form for as long as possible.
- All energy is based on renewable sources. The system is designed for maximum energy efficiency without compromising performance and service output.
- Biodiversity is supported and enhanced through all human activities. A core principle of acting within a circular economy is to preserve complexity: preservation of ecological diversity is a core source of resilience for the planet.
- Human society and culture are preserved. As another form of complexity and diversity (and therefore resilience), human cultures and social cohesion are important to maintain.
- The health and wellbeing of humans and other species is supported. Toxic and hazardous substances will be eliminated, and in the transition phases towards this economy, minimized and kept in highly controlled cycles.
- Human activities generate value in measures beyond just financial. Materials and energy are not available in infinite measure, so their use should be intentional and make a meaningful contribution to the creation of societal value.
- The economic system is inherently adaptable and resilient. The economic system has governance systems, incentives and mechanisms in place that allow it to respond to systemic shocks and crises.
SOCIAL VALUE OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Traditionally, circular economy principles aim to maximise the value of material resources at the end of their first useful life and reduce waste at each step of the value chain, by establishing process improvements, new business models and redesigning products and services. Simply put, the circular economy aims to minimise waste. Social value (or impact) is the measurement of the contribution that development projects, investments and other mainstream businesses make to society. In part due to the Social Value Act, companies in the UK construction sector have become more interested in measuring social value, often through the development or support of a social enterprise. It can be argued that social enterprises are key in transitioning from a linear to a circular economy; social enterprises use environmental business values to achieve social good while maintaining financial sustainability.
ROLE OF COMMUNITY IN CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Economic and environmental benefits are recurrently highlighted as arguments to promote the application of circularity principles for achieving sustainability whereas the social benefits that might emerge are less obvious. Transforming the society and economy around circularity principles requires changing the way we, human beings, behave and view our consumption and use of resources. Circular economy encourages people and organisations to redefine their relationship with using finite resources and interacting with their surrounding materiality. A circular economy requires to go back to the local scale centred around how people–as citizens in communities and as employees in organisations–can change their unsustainable practices. Increased collaboration, communication and care are some of the essential ingredients to create and maintain circularity that hopefully will bring a new sense of well-being and social cohesion amongst other values.
CHALLENGES AGAINST CIRCULAR ECONOMY
The main challenges related to the social dimension of the circular economy can be summarised as follows:
– Circular transformation and social transformation. The new jobs created by the circular economy, specifically in the
maintenance and repair activities, should be industrial-grade, high-quality jobs
– Innovation. It is necessary to combine innovation and longer life products and it is crucial to promote other types of innovation
beyond technical innovation: social innovation, regulatory innovation, etc. to improve consumers’ acceptance. Best
innovations will not come from technology, but from social changes
– Impacts on health. If we were to follow circular economy principles blindly, we may end up recycling products containing
hazardous chemicals and using them for creating other products, thereby generating a risk for consumers’ health
– Affordability of products. If prices are too high for consumers, acceptance of sustainable/circular products will be more
difficult to gain. This may need the development of rental / leasing business models.
The Circular Economy is at a crossroads. Currently, we have preoccupation with delivering economic value, and in most cases the potential synergies between social and environmental value are largely neglected. Many large organisations are cherry picking aspects of circularity to fit existing agendas, retrofitting strategies around efficiency and recycling where financially viable.
Cooperation, co-creation and trust should be the essence of the new economy. We need to recognize the importance of forming decentralised organisations capable of responding swiftly to a range of environmental changes, rather than hierarchical ones that issue orders and regulations in a centralised manner. We need to change people’s behaviour. And, to do this, we need to show there is a new concept for society, not based on competition, but on trust, co-creating and co-existing.