Participant: Philip Baron
Affiliation: Faculty of Electric and Electronic Engineering. University of Johannesburg, South Africa
Format: Presentation and Conversation
Themes: recursion, paradigm, praxis
We are currently facing social and environmental violations including environmental pollution, poor labour practices and unethical economic practices. These unsavoury activities continue to take place across the globe owing to lack of awareness, economic pressure and/or complacency. Isolating the immediate “cause” does not solve the problem. Closing the factory that exploits child labour provides a momentary solution; the violation continues and another factory exploiting child labour is established in a different area. The problem resurfaces as the nature of the system and its vested interests allow for the same or similar problems to manifest. Until the problem is framed in a manner that highlights the recursive nature of the relationships between the different stages and connections of any product/service or behaviour, a lasting solution eludes our efforts.
The Root and Responsibility Model proposed in this paper addresses this inadequacy by providing both corporate companies and consumers a responsibility rating for each step in the production/service chain. The goal of this model is twofold: to empower and educate consumers as to their cooperation of more than the superficial features of their chosen products, but rather awareness of the systemic connection between all the links in the production/service chain including vested interests and resource abuses. Secondly, companies can apply the model to their products/services and market their responsibility rating for the broader public’s enquiry down to the beginning or root of the products economic life. The rating can be applied as a minimum certification standard imposed by independent standardisation bodies. End users voice their approval by purchasing the products/services from transparent companies that meet or achieve adequate responsibility ratings in their social and ecological practices. Companies in violation of acceptable social practices cannot plead ignorance as to the goings on in their own or their supplier’s chain of production. Companies compete in an atmosphere of total disclosure regarding social and environmental matters giving rise to a new ethic of consumerism.