The foundations of the green movement – Part 3: Paradigm shift

Previous on this topic (+to come):

Part 3: Paradigm shift

the need for a new paradigm was discussed in the previous posts and can be summarized in the following statement:

The dominant image of mankind and the subordinate role of our planet has created theoretical frameworks that lie at the base of several crises (ecological, social, economic, financial …). A new way of approaching our role as humans in this bigger system could both restore our ecosystem and get our socio-economic system back on track.

Paradigm shift

A paradigm shift is a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science. Another closely related term for this is zeitgeist. For instance, at the time Darwin came up with his theory on evolution, people were absolutely certain that God created us. The shift from natural theology towards evolution is an example of a paradigm shift.

When we’re talking about sustainable development, a paradigm change is needed to get from our current model (know as the triple bottom line) towards a more holistic model based on interconnected systems. One way of defining this holistic model is the so called “single bottom line“, which I talked about earlier in this post.

Beneath I’ll list a sort of comparison between our current paradigm and the paradigm as suggested in the green movement.

Paradigm: Worldview

Current paradigm Sustainable paradigm 
Linear causality Systemic – Complexity
Uniformity Diversity
Abstract space and time Concrete place and history
Infinite growth Biophysical limits

Paradigm: behavioral perspectives

Current paradigm Sustainable paradigm 
Strategically – Single direction Reciprocity – Participatory
Subjective perspective Shared interpretations and objectives
Efficiency – Streamlining Resilience – Diversity
Individualizing Contextualizing
Customer Participant
Medical model (doctor – patient) Empowerment
Intervention (Productivity) attendance (meaning – recognition)

Paradigm: Ethics

Current paradigm Sustainable paradigm 
Legal ethics Care ethics
Autonomy Connectedness
responsibility: personal duty, self-sufficiency Shared responsibility, openness to shared-sufficiency
usefulness (utilitarianism) meaning oriented

Paradigm: Humanity

Current paradigm Sustainable paradigm 
individualism intersubjective
autonomy solidarity
controlling vulnerable
conflicting interests shared world
external relations (conflict – contract) intrinsic relationships (cooperative – community)

Next week: Empowerment


About leyssensjan

Jan Leyssens is a designer and entrepreneur who strongly believes you can’t turn sustainability into a positive story if your main focus is on negative impact. When designing, he is always looking for the overlap between activism and entrepreneurship, technology and community. His main expertise lies in strategic business model development, Circular Economy, the makermovement, and social innovation. With a background in Industrial Design, Jan quickly shifted his focus towards business design and using the design process in strategic management. Jan is the father of two kids and founder & CEO of Regenerative Design, co-founder of Full Circle, ImpactBoost, and the Circular Design map, podcaster, storyteller, and changemaker.

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