Changing society’s DNA codes: Democracy and the global movement for community progress measures
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This paper examines some critical issues and opportunities for democracy and public policy posed by the growth of the global progress measurement movement. From the democratic perspective, these include: citizen progress measurement as a form of democratic re-engagement; the re-examination of democracy and the development of new indicators to define and measure a 'healthy' democracy; and the demonstration of clear linkages between healthy regimes, and broader individual and societal wellbeing. In public policy, the global movement challenges two long dominant assumptions: the primacy of continuous economic growth as the key driver of wellbeing; and the 'inevitability of progress'. In their place, it offers a more holistic, integrated and nuanced model that recognises the interdependence of economic, social, cultural, environmental and democratic dimensions for genuine wellbeing, progress and sustainability. The paper reviews work in Australia over the past decade at both local community and national levels as examples of these trends, including the development of citizen-engaged community planning and neighbourhood renewal schemes in which progress and wellbeing indicators play a central role; the development of state-wide local progress measurement frameworks as part of a commitment to devolved planning and stronger local democracy; and the evolution of national progress measurement systems. The paper concludes with a proposal for a broad community engaged National Development Index (NDI) for Australia.
Australian Journal of Social Issues
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Applied Sociology, Program Evaluation and Social Impact Assessment