The research context of the study presented here was the cooperative project "Blocked Transition? Creating New Thinking and Action Space for Sustainable Regional Development" within the socio-ecological research programme. The space of the investigation was the region around the mouth of the river Mulde. There, near Dessau, the Mulde flows into the river Elbe. The particular project was occupied with a multitude of activities which, only partially recognised as "work", take place in different social spaces - in "spaces of activity".
The considerations are focussed on the recognition and valuation of caring and nurturing activities, which are so far separated from the visible space of gainful employment. Because - and this is the authors' thesis - amongst those activities exist abilities for a sustainable development. The exclusion of such activities is caused by separating, hierarchical conceptions of the political and the economic. The authoritative theories of John Locke and Adam Smith, often absorbed in the history of science, are therefore analysed. Approaches towards concepts which no longer need these separations can be found in two case studies from our practical experience. Their examination revealed specific creative potentials for a socio-ecological transformation in the meaning of a sustainable development: potentials of many people as well as of the ecological nature. Their activities point towards the development of a holistic concept of activity with different valuations and a different "nature of work". Analytically conceived, the case studies present small new social contracts. Following from those new, non-separating concepts of the political and the economic can be developed, which in turn ensure the new concept of activity. At the same time the case studies proof how strongly neoliberal powers support the old structures. This ambivalence is strengthened by the multiple processes of shrinking to which the region is exposed.
Uta von Winterfeld, Adelheid Biesecker, Annegret Ergenzinger:
Sozial-ökologisches Tätigsein im Schatten der Moderne
Tätigkeitsräume für eine nachhaltige Regionalentwicklung
(Wuppertal Report no. 4)