This paper aims to investigate the links between materiality and society at a conceptual level, using examples from the author’s decade of research in several fields relevant to the issue. With current talk of the need for ‘sustainability’ and ‘resilience’ reaching fever pitch in industry, politics and other arenas, there is a regrettable tendency to muddle the meaning of these words. Drawing on original research carried out in the UK, China, Germany, and Australia, and using the conceptual approaches of actor-network theory (ANT) and urban political ecology (UPE), the author invites us to re-engage with the materiality of society and how we, as businesses, consumers and thinkers, can advance sustainability and resilience through this re-engagement. We will ask what sustainability and resilience mean, for whom and in what context. We will also look at how we can shift thinking and reinvigorate these words, by contributing to the dialogue between the social sciences and business and industry. Specific examples will be taken from the UK and Chinese steel industries; climate-sensitive urban design in Manchester and Stuttgart; and housing construction and affordability in Scotland and Australia, thus covering a wide range of issues related to urban sustainability and resilience in relation to materiality.
- climate science