In the contemporary discourse and extensive research on sustainable living and housing, little is made to investigate the phenomena of the home and the way it works. Despite the centrality of the home to aspects of sustainable living, massive research is being made to enhance the physical environment of houses to attend to the requirements of sustainability. This is, apparently, due to the fact that contemporary societies are overwhelmingly dominated by political institutions that organize behavioural moods and responses, which hinder any intelligible understanding of complex phenomena such as the home.
How does the home influence social dynamics, legal frameworks and, ultimately, entire social systems? The answer to this question lies in the understanding of the strategic position that the home holds as a microcosm within the larger community of persons. It is within a home environment that character traits and value systems of individuals are formed and developed. And if society is a community of persons, then the management of the home environment is the management of society. If the quality of the experience of family living is positive, then there is bound to be some impact on the quality of relationships, systems, and structures formed outside the home. This is the aim of sustainability living.
The term 'homework' in the title is used on purpose to stress the focus of the content of this paper. Firstly that housework is not only about the practical issues of running a building, but is also homemaking, building something much further that what is contained within four walls. Secondly, and this is essentially what this paper is trying to demonstrate, greater and deeper research is needed to stimulate study into the effects and impact of the work within the home on individuals, the family and society as a whole.
The domains of work and home are often dichotomized to the point of full separation in the minds and practical efforts of many workers today. As women have taken their place in equal numbers in the workforces of most industrialized economies they have developed competencies and strengths that result in their respective areas of paid employment. After years of success in education and increased parity in the workplace they seem to exhibit greater professional confidence than previous generations.
I am very pleased to be able to share with people from around the globe how we create homes within the community in Hong Kong. First of all, I would like to highlight that Hong Kong is very different from other cities because we live in a high-density high-rise environment. We only have 1100 square kilometres of land of which only 25% has been developed - the rest is countryside, parks and hills. 4% of our land goes towards residential uses. We have to house 7 million people in Hong Kong.
Many people are familiar with the definition for sustainability as stated in Our Common Future, commonly called The Brundtland Report: 'development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.' 1 As a biologist, I would argue that the best way to achieve this definition of sustainability is through sustainable use of biodiversity. While many people would not agree and would opt for ambitious recycling and energy saving policies, I claim that sustainable use of biodiversity is the core of achieving sustainable development.
I do not think I know anybody who would honestly say that they do not want to live in a healthy environment at home. What I have seen, though, are a lot of homes that are definitely not healthy environments. I think that if people knew how important the home environment is for everyone in the household, then perhaps attitudes would change and everybody would get involved in running good, healthy homes. Through my work on the show How Clean Is Your House? 1 and my recent involvement in Lord Best's housing panel2, I have been able to witness, time and again, how closely linked a person's home environment is to their well-being.
Protection of the environment is seen by many as one of the main challenges we face this century. I would like to examine the other great challenge of the 21st century, the changing demographic. I say challenge, but I think it is also a great opportunity too. It is a complex topic and although I will discuss technology and ageing, what I would like to focus on is a fairly neglected element in gerontology, certainly within the area of home care and healthcare technologies for the home.
I have been asked to talk about a very sensitive and complex issue: The influence of the home in social Dynamics. I will start off with the question with which the organisers begin their presentation of my speech: How is the home, and specifically the work at home, a crucial factor in the way society works and develops?
There is a lot of debate on the under-valuation of households and families. The same holds true for the natural environment, maybe on common grounds. I have arranged my presentation to look at the reasons for this and try to contribute to a solution. My interest today is to stress the influence of contemporary mainstream economics on the under-valuation of household and family work as well as of the natural environment.