Not all Cultures should be Preserved: The Culture of Denial; its Effects on Sustainability, and what should be done about it

By Paul Derby.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

What if the values and behaviors of one culture are detrimental to the natural environment or the existence of other cultures? This paper addresses this question through a discussion of a growing denial of global warming among people of the United States of America. It is argued that the emergent Culture of Denial results from threats to a dominant Western ideology caused by challenges from the sustainability movement and the current global economic crisis. It is further argued that this dominant ideology of the so-called developed societies promotes and legitimizes cultural values that are unsustainable, thus harmful to the natural environment and other cultures. A case study of a lake community in United States demonstrates the power these cultural values have on the decision-making of the people in the community and the negative effects their decisions have had on the natural environment. The paper concludes by suggesting ways to end the Culture of Denial and change the ideology of unsustainability that threatens the natural and human environments of our shared ecosystem.

Keywords: Environmental Sustainability, Cultural Sustainability, Culture of Denial, Cultural Eutrophication

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp.105-116. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 609.457KB).

Dr. Paul Derby

Assitant Professor, Sociology Department, Castleton State College, Castleton, Vermont, USA

My research and scholarly interests concentrate on environmental and cultural sustainability. Current research focuses on a small lake-based community in upstate New York, USA. This historical ecology and local history examines cultural and ecological transformations over time and how cultural worldviews affect human understandings of and interactions with the natural environment. This work is contextualized within the global social, political and economic factors of sustainability. Additional advocacy-based research includes the creation of the Green Campus Initiative at the college, participation in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education and the New England Consortium in Sustainability Practices. Previous field research concentrated on social and religious interactions in north India.


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