Paradigms…what do they do?


Going into this week I had conception of paradigms. I had heard the word before, but never seen it used in a context that I was heavily associated with. Even when reading the assigned article, I did not completely understand what this word meant, or how important it would be for me to have strong conceptual understanding of the definition. After class discussion and looking a formal definitions, I describe a paradigm as a type of lens particular to an individual based off the culture, experiences, occupation, ethnicity and society that individual is apart of. A paradigm is our set of values that affects our decisions and the way we view different types of issues, allowing us to choose our stance on a certain problem.

Because Paradigms serve as our basis for opinion and views they are important to remember when discussing wicked problems in regards to sustainability.  Often time western values are positively correlated  with consumerism, materialism, and capitailism, of which negatively correlate with the ideas associated with a more sustainable future. Modern American culture is based off the values of capitailism, encouraging citizens to participate in excessive purchasing of goods and services in order to stimulate the economy. The paradigm of this culture is that production of goods of services serves out immediate needs, and therefor is beneficial to our self personally as well as the world we live in. However most people fail to realize that our modern western values have a negative impact on the world we live in.  However, there are arguments that suggest the expansion of western ethics can support sustainability practices. And although these arguments suppor the compatibility of this dominant paradigm, it is not compatible with the ideas of sustainability.  One arguments concludes that western civilizations can prevent further unsustainable activities by influencing underdeveloped areas of the world to collect resources and expel these resources in more proactive way. The idea is that western cultures can evaluate their shortcomings in their production methods and share that information with developing countries so that to provide a background of what not to do. This idea is good in that it aspires to help prevent harm, but does nothing to solve the prevalent issues back at home. Pro globalization will most likely not do too much to prevent similar problems in production methods from emerging in developing  countries.


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