Monday, December 13, 2010

sustainability in terms of vulnerability

The opposite of sustainability is unsustainability. In order to frame a concept of sustainability in livelihoods, we have to look at how different frameworks explicate it, but to complete it we have to include the narratives of those who experience it.
I would propose that we frame unsustainability in terms of vulnerability. The handloom weaver [a person who makes his or her livelihood through handloom weaving] feels vulnerable, to the progress of technology, society and markets. These come to him or her embedded in economic, social and knowledge frameworks that are less and less inclusive. In order that handloom weaving is sustainable as a livelihood, it is important that the weaver is sustainable. But an individual does not experience unsustainability, he or she experiences vulnerability. The question is, does the vulnerability come from handloom weaving; consequently does it mean that moving out of weaving makes the weaver less vulnerable?
I do not have any answers, but would like to explore this question from the point of view of the weaver. It is interesting that the weavers for who weaving is sustainable, are those who do not think in over arching economic terms; the social parameters of happiness play a strong role in keeping them content.
Education, health, home, family, community, these constitute sustainability for weavers, and is this not true of all human kind. So why then do we measure sustainability in terms of financial parameters? Is it possible that in fact handloom technology is ahead, in the progress paradigm, and it is society that is behind in understanding it?

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