Franz Lehner

Sozialwissenschaftler mit vielen Ideen           Social Scientist with a lot of Ideas


Franz Lehner. Deliberative Governance for Sustainable Development:  An Innovative Solution for Environment, Economy and Society. London-New York: Routledge

Western societies are in danger of failing in developing a sustainable society and combating climate change because of the many large and small economic and social conflicts that are always associated with sustainable development. These conflicts arise repeatedly because sustainable development is only theoretically a common good for all people, in practice the benefits, costs and risks of this development are as unequally distributed as income and property. 

These conflicts can be resolved in principle, but this is hardly possible within the framework of the existing political and social institutions of Western societies. For some years now, it has been apparent that these institutions are no longer able to match the diversity of Western societies and the complexity of their problems. The answer to this insight is neither neoliberalism nor a strong state, but deliberative democracy. This concept describes political institutions and a political culture that are systematically designed to achieve broad acceptance of political decisions despite diverging interests. 

To introduce this concept in Western societies, one does not have to wait for major political reforms, which would probably come too late for sustainable development. It can be achieved with many small and large activities of economic and civil society actors as well as of cities and municipalities. All these actors may apply deliberative principles to solve problems of sustainable development in their environment. In this way, they can set in motion a process of change that will develop an ever stronger momentum of its own.

 The book offers concrete proposals for such activities which are integrated into a comprehensive approach to achieving in Western societies development that is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable by the middle of this century.



1 Sustainable Development: The Great Challenge

The Misunderstood Commonality
The Logic of Social Transformation
A Changing Context: Knowledge Society
The Key Problem: Governance
Regaining Common Grounds
The Institutional Solution: A Deliberative Switch
The Deliberative Way: Threefold Sustainability

2 Threefold Sustainability

A New Approach to the Common Good
The Threefold Challenge
The Environmental Dimension: Resource Productivity
The Economic Dimension: Living Standard
The Social Dimension: Cohesion
A Key Issue: Radical Innovation
The Deliberative Way: Activating Government

3 The Economic Charm of Ecology

Resource Productivity or Climate Neutrality?
Factor 10, Rucksacks and Footprints
The Driving Force: A Dynamic Resource Tax
The Environmental Promise of Knowledge Society
A Key Issue: Cities
The Deliberative Way: An Ordered Chaos

4 From the Wealth of Nations to the Wealth of People

The Neglect of the Greatest Happiness Principle
The Logic of the Distributive State
The “Nickel-and-Dime Economy” Revisited
A New Economy
A Key Issue: The Future of Work
The Deliberative Way: Making Small Beautiful Again

5 A Social Contract for a Sustainable Society

The Underpinning of Cohesion
The Shaping of Social Development
Western Societies in Face of Decline
New Topicality for Milton Friedman
Representing Pluralist Societies
A Key Issue: Culture
The Deliberative Way: An Alliance for Reframing

6 The Mastering of the Knowledge Society

From Genesis to Telesis
Coping with the Janus Face
A New Innovation Dynamism
A Key Issue: Restructuring Human Capital
Winning the Race
The Fine Art of Social Learning
The Deliberative Way: A New Enlightenment

7 Making the Deliberative Switch

Implementing Threefold Sustainability.
Deliberation: A Gentle Revolution
Making Pluralism Work
Reframing Governance
From Deliberative Democracy to Deliberative Society