A Global Perspective for FCS: Sustaining Families, Natural Environments Social Capital

By Nickols, Sharon Y.; Turkki, Kaija et al. | Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

A Global Perspective for FCS: Sustaining Families, Natural Environments Social Capital


Nickols, Sharon Y., Turkki, Kaija, Pichler, Gertraud, Kirjavainen, Leena, Atiles, Jorge H., Firebaugh, Francille M., Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences


People around the world are increasingly interconnected through communications technology, commerce, and transportation systems-a process and state of being called "globalization." Critics of globalization point out that it leads to environmental degradation, out-sourcing of jobs and unemployment in industrialized countries, exploitation of workers in poor countries, and destruction of traditional cultural structures and values (Schrettle, Breiting, & Klein, 2009). Supporters of globalization contend that it contributes to economic growth, higher productivity and standards of living, access to useful new technology, and multicultural understanding (Schrettle et al., 2009). The consequences of globalization (positive and negative) influence the daily lives of families, consumers, and communities everywhere.

In response to the challenges and opportunities posed by globalization, the United Nations and other agencies have undertaken programs aimed at "sustainable development." Sustainable development is defined as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). Linking needs and resources, ecologically sustainable development has been defined as "the way we use, conserve, and enhance the community's resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, is secured" (Commonwealth of Australia, 1992, cited in Lumley 2002, p. 3).

Family and consumer sciences (FCS), through our ecological heritage, was a forerunner for sustainability, before it was "discovered" by others. NoI en and Clawson (1992) provided one discussion of sustainability and the values of home economics. Sustainability has been present in the theories and practices of home economics throughout our history, but it has not always been made explicit in our global practice.

PURPOSE

The focus of this article is to discuss the role of FCS in addressing issues of sustainable development through building social capital and empowering communities to address the challenges of change, some of which are related to globalization. The authors concur with Makela (2003) that "family and consumer sciences and its practice, education, and research are integral to sustainability" (p. 8). The profession can assume a position of global leadership if we continue to synthesize our expertise with the conceptualization, analysis, and intervention of other scholars and practitioners, as well as making our own unique contributions to education, research, and policy formation.

Our definition of social capital encompasses social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness embedded in them, which enable people and institutions to advance their interests and benefit their communities by cooperating with others (adapted from Field, 2010; Putman, 2000; The World Bank, 1999). The definition of community is a group of individuals and families who are interdependent through participation in meeting human needs, have common interests, transmit culture and values from generation to generation, and (usually) live in proximity to one another (adapted from Etzioni, 2001; Lewis & Jay, 2000). It is generally assumed that the word community implies the common good. However, difficulties of achieving empowerment for women in community development prompted Guijt and Shah (1998) to caution that communities are neither homogeneous in composition and concerns, nor necessarily harmonious in their relationships. Furthermore, with increasing worldwide mobility, describing the boundaries (in terms of both proximity and sociocultural identity) of community poses conceptual and practical challenges (Maida, 2007). Despite these ambiguities, in today's world, community has acquired both local and global connotations.

GLOBAL GOALS FOR DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY

The recent global economic recession has caused an enormous chain reaction affecting the developed economies of the United States and countries in Europe and Asia. …

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