CONSENSUS aims to improve our understanding of trade-offs and synergies between economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainable development. In so doing, the project applies a selective focus in order to shed light on several issues that are of particular relevance in this respect – both in practical and analytical terms. First, the project places particular emphasis on a systematic analysis of the interlinkage between different levels of economic pressure and social and environmental policy. Second, in line with the political emphasis on better regulation and deregulation, the project applies a highly innovative perspective on policy change and sustainable development. Third, this interlinkage between economic pressure on the one side, and environmental and social sustainability on the other, is analyzed on the basis of a systematic comparison across 25 OECD countries over a period of thirty years (1975-2005) Fourth, this focus offers the opportunity for a comparison of regulatory adjustments across different policy areas. The focus on two 'crucial' policy fields – social and environmental policy – allows us to study whether regulatory responses to economic pressures differ between these areas. Fifth, with regard to environmental and social policy, we focus on those subfields that have been identified as priority areas of sustainable development The projects proceeds in the following steps. In the first step, the theoretical framework will be further elaborated. In the second step, a quantitative analysis of the major driving forces of policy dismantling will be acrried out. For this purpose, cross-national data on social and environmental policy dismantling for the period from 1975 to 2005 will be collected. In the third part of the study, theoretiaccly interesting cases will be selected and subject to an in-depth qualitative analysis. The final part refers to the publication of the research reprot and the dissemination of the results.
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