Infrastructures and society: from a literature review to a conceptual framework
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While economic and environmental aspects of civil engineering have attracted the greatest attention among contemporary academy, its social side has frequently been set aside. However, the social impact that infrastructures have is huge and its analysis and understanding are fundamental. At the same time, social aspects such as culture or human behaviour can have significant effects during the different stages of the lifecycle of infrastructures. Therefore, a better understanding of the connections between civil engineering and society can help to better adapt infrastructures to their contexts, as well as minimise their negative impacts; as a result, this understanding can bring about infrastructures that are more socially sustainable. The scarce studies that have assessed the connection between society and civil engineering have considered this relationship as unidirectional. The real scenario is not so simple. The analysis of this relationship needs to be interdisciplinary, and it is in this context that this paper addresses the analysis of infrastructures and of social sciences from a sociotechnical point of view. We draw on the interrelationships found to propose a conceptual framework with the main objective of providing both practitioners and academics with tools to carry out more sustainable and context-adapted decisions. We classify the fields of civil engineering and social sciences into several different subfields, namely six for infrastructures (transport, water, energy, environment, urban planning and buildings) and twelve for social sciences (culture and history, behaviour and mind, communication and interaction, socioeconomics, juridical sciences, life and health, politics, social problems, social groups, ethics and philosophy, arts and education and innovation). Afterwards, we review the existing literature at the intersection between the various categories. We conclude proposing a framework that can support decisions and actions made at different levels and working areas. The framework includes guidelines for a more holistic consideration of the interaction between infrastructures and society in key activities whereby an improved understanding of the effect of this relationship is often required. The guidelines provide a description of different key areas and can be applied to a wide variety of actions ranging from the development of university curricula to the social impact assessment of projects.
CitationJosa i, I.; Aguado, A. Infrastructures and society: from a literature review to a conceptual framework. "Journal of cleaner production", Novembre 2019, vol. 238, p. 117741:1-117741:22.
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