Sustainability and Well-Being The Middle Path to Environment, Society and the Economy

by Asoka Bandarage

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London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

The book provides an integrated analysis of the twin challenges of environmental sustainability and human well-being by investigating them as interconnected phenomena requiring a paradigmatic psychosocial transformation. The book presents an incisive social science analysis and an alternative philosophical perspective on the needed transition from a worldview of domination to one of partnership.


‘In this meticulously researched scholarly work, Bandarage brilliantly demonstrates that environmental sustainability and social justice are inseparable problems requiring a fundamental social and psychological transformation. Sustainability and Well-Being synthesizes a vast amount of data and research from a broad range of fields from global political economy to religion and philosophy. Yet, this work is highly accessible to a wide readership. It is lucidly written and provides a balanced and compassionate perspective that is much-needed in the world at this time. It is a must read for professionals and students of Environmental Studies; Global Studies, Women’s Studies and the Social Sciences in General. This book is highly recommended and represents another scholarly triumph for Asoka Bandarage.

Filomina Chioma Steady, Wellesley College, USA

The message of Sustainability and Well-Being is simple, yet profound. Asoka Bandarage argues that in order to make a transition to a path of sustainability and well-being, we must transcend the prevalent tendencies of dualism, extremism and reductionism that are causing environmental destruction and threats to planetary survival. She points out that we must embrace, instead, a holistic orientation fusing a balanced and ethical path of social and psychological development. Admirably combining rigorous scholarship and a readable style, Asoka Bandarage’s book is an urgent call for both personal and social transformation, rooted in the timeless wisdom of the Buddhist Middle Path, while building on the contemporary conditions which offer unprecedented possibilities and opportunities to bring about such a revolutionary transformation. An important book for our time!

Sajed Kamal, Brandeis University, USA

In the contemporary world, economic development has become a goal in its own right divorced from the intricate web of relationships in which any economic system—national or global—is inevitably situated. This orientation had led us by the nose to the grave crises that confront us at almost every turn: the widening gulf between the super-rich and the everyone else; climate disruption; and politics dominated by giant corporations and wealthy individuals. In this book, Asoka Bandarage offers us the kind of advice we need to hear if we are to avoid full-scale calamity. She contends that economics, politics, and social relations must be guided by ethical and spiritual commitments as potent as the forces now causing such drastic upheavals. The vision she articulates is one in which the domination model of social organization, rooted in dualism, is replaced by a new model rooted in the view of interdependence and valuing partnership and collaboration rather than ruthless competition. The task of implementing such a vision will not be easy, but it may well be a necessary prescription if we are to preserve a flourishing planet for future generations.

Bhikku Bodhi, Buddhist Global Relief, USA

A profound and compelling analysis of the contemporary dilemma that goes far beyond conventional analyses. Asoka Bandarage brings together an incisive social science analysis and a universal ethical perspective that shed light on the connections between environmental and social issues and a path for individual and social change. The historical and interdisciplinary perspective provided here needs urgent consideration. A very thorough and insightful work of great value internationally to students, policymakers and activists in the environmental, social justice and peace movements and to all concerned with resolving the survival crisis facing us.

Roberto Savio, Inter Press News Service, World Social Forum, Alliance for a New Humanity.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Abbreviations
  • 1. Introduction: Environment, Society and Economy
  • 2. Environmental, Social and Economic Collapse
  • 3. Evolution of the Domination Paradigm
  • 4. Ecological and Social Justice Movements
  • 5. Ethical Path to Sustainability and Wellbeing
  • Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Index

96 pages