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Sustainable development of the Russian North: the limits of ecological modernization

Olga V. Aksenova, Doctor of Sociology main researcher, , Doctor of Sociological sciences, leading research fellow. Institute of Sociology of the FCTAS RAS, Moscow city, Russia.
mailto: illaio@yandex.ru
Sustainable development of the Russian North: the limits of ecological modernization.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2010. Vol. 1. No. 1. P. 352-363

This Article is downloaded: 585 times
Topic: Ecosociology

For citation:
Aksenova O. V.. Sustainable development of the Russian North: the limits of ecological modernization. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2010. Vol. 1. No. 1. P. 352-363


The article examines the prospects of harmonious co-existence between business and the traditional management of natural resources, as well as the future of sustainable development of the Russian North. The means of managing natural resources that we take into consideration are mutually exclusive regardless of the scope of capital currently invested into the Russian North, because they are based on dramatically different mechanisms of economic reproduction. Traditional, subsistence management of renewable resources, typical of the small indigenous communities in the North, fully depends on the ecosystem integrity, making it conservational by nature. Even significant changes in the nature of the community’s tools do not impact the conservational core of the subsistence resource management, which only allows for technologies that do not deplete nature. Such resource management is founded upon conscious consumption limitations and leaves no room for accruing revenue. Market-focused management of natural resources in aimed at increasing revenues and encouraging consumption, and therefore leads to an inevitable use of more and more new resources in the production process, regardless of whether those resources are obtained intensively or extensively. Our research reveals that the environmental overhaul of modern production has its limitations. The environmental policy strategy proposed by the big capital is almost exclusively oriented at conserving the immediate surroundings of industrial areas. Preserving natural ecosystems is not among this policy’s priorities, which can be explained by the overall nature of the environmental overhaul rather by some peculiarities of Russian business. Attempts to alter consumption and make it more environmentally friendly are only made within very rigid frames; furthermore, all that such attempts can achieve is a small mitigation of the destructive impact that industrial companies have on the natural ecosystems. The sustainable development of the modern civilization is, for the most part, an illusion, a simulacrum, a smoke screen intended to conceal the ceaseless drive towards greater and greater consumption and production. The only way of managing natural resources without destroying nature is the traditional subsistence economy of small indigenous communities. However, in order to develop beyond mere survival, indigenous peoples have no other choice but to, in essence, abandon their traditional resource management and to shift to market economy. Therefore, the modern industrial civilization does not bear coexisting with any alternative civilizations: it either destroys or absorbs them.


eco-system, traditional economy, market economy, ecological modernization, ecologization of economy, environmental non-governmental organizations.


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2. Institutsionalizatsiya ekologicheskoy politiki v Rossii: sotsial’nyye praktiki, strategiya gosudarstva, upravlencheskiye resheniya [Institutionalization of environmental policy in Russia: social practices, state strategy, management decisions]. Responsible editor I. A. Khaliy. Moscow, Institut sotsiologii RAN, 2006 (in Russ.).

3. Catton W. R.; Danlop R. E. Environmental sociology and new paradigms. The American Sociologist, 1978, no 13, pp. 41–49.

4. Arts B. “Green alliances” of business and NGOs. New styles of selfregulation or “dead-end roads”? Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 2002, no 9, pp. 26–36.

5. Federal’naya programma «Ekonomicheskoye i sotsial’noye razvitiye korennykh malochislennykh narodov Severa do 2011 goda» [The federal program "Economic and social development of indigenous small-numbered peoples of the North until 2011"] (in Russ.).

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