Purpose: The set of stakeholders included in the social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) guideline (UNEP/SETAC 2009) could create confusion as to the target of the assessment: individuals or society. This paper attempts to develop the epistemological foundations of S-LCA in social sciences. Its major discussion is who should be addressed in S-LCA: individuals or society as a whole. This article contributes to the definition of a social life cycle based on sociological perspectives. Methods: This paper is a critical evaluation of well-being methodologies and sociological perspectives used to analyze the effects of a change in a social system. The two perspectives, individualistic and holistic, have been evaluated based on four criteria: subjectivity, social values, possibility of aggregation of social data and rebound effects. We have examined different points of view in the sociologic discipline to determine which perspective would be more suitable. Insights have been taken from structural functionalist, symbolic interactionism, and conflict theories to answer the troubling debates identified in S-LCA: Can the life cycle defined for LCA be used in S-LCA? More specifically, does S-LCA include the same actors and timeline as LCA? Does aggregation of data of individuals convey the characteristics of a society? Results and discussion: Organizational or technical changes induce new cost and benefits in the social system. When focusing on the well-being of individuals, little emphasis is directed to the relations between people, and thus social costs and benefits are not valorized. The sociological perspectives that deal with social change (structuralism, functionalism, and symbolic interaction) seek to explain social phenomena based on the relations that are established and affected by a social phenomenon. The sociologic concept has brought insights to the definition of a social life cycle, the object of S-LCA. Conclusions: This paper is an attempt to bring the attention of S-LCA practitioners to the concept of social change defined by sociologists. Whether society is considered as a sum of individuals or as an independent entity determines our approach as individualistic or holistic. This would obviously influence our perspective in the selection of stakeholders of the life cycle, the boundaries of the analysis, and the indicators to be assessed. We recognize the central social matter of a product system as its contribution to the overall order in a society.
|Titolo:||Area of protection in S-LCA: human well-being or societal quality|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2019|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|