Accepted paper:

The transformative potential of participation of membership-based organisations of the poor (MBOPs) for social sustainability

Authors:

Juan Pablo Winter (University of Sheffield)

Paper short abstract:

This work examines the transformative potential of participation of MBOPs for social sustainability. It contributes to the discussion of CSOs as agents of political change, unpacking the narratives and practices of participation and social sustainability in the context of inclusive development.

Paper long abstract:

This research paper examines the transformative potential of participation of membership-based organisations of the poor (MBOPs) for social sustainability. It intends to contribute to the discussion of CSOs as agents of political and structural change, unpacking the narratives and practices of participation and social sustainability in the context of inclusive development. Sustainable development has been studied as the development 'that meets the needs of the present without compromising the future', and it usually comprises three different pillars assumed to be equally important: environmental, economic, and social. While hard to analyse separately as they constantly overlap and interrelate, for analysis matters this research will focus particularly on 'the social dimension', understanding that part of its analysis might also have repercussions on 'the other pillars' of sustainability. The investigation criticises the technical perspective within the framework of a capitalist system under which both participation and social sustainability have been studied and its restrictive effects on change in the development process. Consequently, it reflects on issues of power in development and suggests a reconceptualization of participation in the political, community and social spheres. A reconceptualization able to address the 'depoliticisation' of poverty and the structural economic inequalities experienced by marginalised groups in capitalist development. Likewise, this work discusses the meanings and practices of sustainability that are still informed by a colonial thought, something that could also end up in a depoliticized notion of sustainability and the consequent disempowerment of local communities.

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