1. With the motivation of consumption in affluent countries shifting from the satisfaction of needs to the symbolic functions of goods (positional and identity functions), both dimensions are deeply intermingled in everyday life.
2. This German word is also used in English to describe a normative vision of a desirable state, defined as the joint long-term common ground of what is desirable and what can be realistically expected.
3. Social entities and general systems of rules are included in this definition because both shape human behavior. Furthermore, including both simultaneously reflects the fact that agents and structures have a dialectic relationship, and both can play a decisive role. Which of the elements—agents or structures—actually determines the outcome in a specific situation is determined case by case.
4. In dealing with this question, economics fails completely. Although it can express the four dimensions as capital stocks (the economic, social, environmental, and institutional dimension correspond to human-made, human, natural, and social capital, respectively), it cannot distinguish different, cumulative qualities within such capital stocks.
5. Similarly, environmental and economic criteria can be defined. A nature protection law is an institution, and if well designed and effectively implemented, it constitutes an element of the environmental sustainability of the system of institutions. This applies also to orientations toward dematerialization, policies for material flow reduction, and organizations such as efficient environmental NGOs and benevolent environmental authorities. The protection of property (private and public) and the enforceability of contracts are some of the best-known conditions for a system of institutions to be economically sustainable.
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