ISSN online: 2221-1616

Bulletin of the Institute of Sociology (Vestnik instituta sotziologii)

Research Article

Islam Z. Zakirov
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
On the question of the philosophical and methodological foundations of the theory of sustainable development in the social sciences.
Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2022. Vol. 13. No. 2. P. 200-219

Дата поступления статьи: 23.03.2022
Topic: Young researcher's tribune

For citation:
Zakirov I. Z. On the question of the philosophical and methodological foundations of the theory of sustainable development in the social sciences. Vestnik instituta sotziologii. 2022. Vol. 13. No. 2. P. 200-219


The article presents an analytical review of the main theoretical concepts underlying the now very popular theory of sustainable development. The report of the World Economic Forum "The Global Risks Report 2021" noted that environmental risks are the main challenge for the world economy. In connection with the intensification of environmental risks, the ideas of sustainable development become of particular relevance. For the first time the concept of "sustainable development" was used in 1980 in the "World Conservation Strategy". However, the problem of sustainable development itself has been actively studied both in Russia and abroad since the 1970s. Currently, the study of sustainable development has an interdisciplinary nature. The purpose of this work is to identify the socio-philosophical and political and economic foundations of the theory of sustainable development. The scientific significance of this work is due to the wide coverage of the concepts under consideration (philosophical, sociological, political economy). The theoretical analysis carried out by the author made it possible to establish that the origins of the theory of sustainable development lie in the teachings of the physiocrats (F. Quesnay and others) about the fertile properties of the earth and T. Malthus about the limited nature of natural resources.

The positivist theories of progress (A. Comte, H. Spencer) are another source of the theory of sustainable development. The problem of sustainable development finds a unique refraction in the works of S. N. Bulgakov and A. Bergson, who studied the relationship between life and matter, in the works of U. Beck, who studied the "risk society", and in the works of N. Luhmann, who considered the problem of ecological imbalance through the prism of the systems theory.

The classics of political economy (D. Ricardo, K. Marx, A. Marshall) paid little attention to the problem of limited resources.

According to the modern American social thinker H. Daly, the work of the classics of political economy fell on the stage of the Industrial Revolution, when humanity existed in an “empty world” (with unlimited space and an abundance of resources). The transition to a “full world” that took place in the last third of the 20th century marked a rejection of the idea of limitless space and abundance of resources. The main conclusion of the author's analysis of the literature is that the theory of sustainable development is an open intellectual project that draws its inspiration from various sources. The presented analysis also helps to understand the logic of the latest research, according to which the theory of sustainable development should become not so much a scientific as a socio-philosophical and political enterprise.


sociology, social sciences, sustainable development, organic development, noosphere, limited resources, environmental risks, environmental movements

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