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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Towards a Natural Social Contract by Patrick Huntjens is an influential non-fiction book with the primary focus of "Transformative Social-Ecological Innovation for a Sustainable, Healthy and Just Society." Across three parts and six chapters, introduction and conclusion excluded, Huntjens offers up an independently conceptualized and compelling argument addressing the necessity of a new social contract in an era in which the social imperatives must be matched with ecological imperatives. Huntjens digs deeply, covering topics such as the necessary sustainability transition and the new social contract, the history of social contracts and the failings of models that were aligned purely on economic growth at the ecological expense, theories and concepts that embody principles and governance, and a detailed, ambitious agenda for the transition itself.
As a woman who grew up in a household where academia was our religion and anthropology was discussed like the daily news, Patrick Huntjens provided an intrigued reader with the opportunity to put down the work of traditional social contract theorists and engage with the here and now, which Towards a Natural Social Contract does exceptionally well. Because of my genuine interest in natural resource management and critical environmental impact, I found the chapters on agriculture sustainability and the importance of collective collaboration over independent governance intriguing, especially with the apparent success of the former through the farming co-op Rechtstreex in Rotterdam. As someone who has spent their entire adult life living centrally in cities, the effective transition to urban sustainability also piqued my interest. This is an exceptionally well-executed book with research-backed data and real-time application potential. I have no doubt that those who are willing to listen will also be the catalyst for change.