There's no obvious way (that I can see) to isolate a Drupal site's configuration (which is of course all in the database) from its content (which is of course in the same database) when doing any operations on the database.
For instance, it would be very useful to be able to be able to push your configuration changes from your development server to production,
drush sql-sync @dev @prod
and then push only your content back to development from production.
drush sql-sync @prod @dev
Short of going through the database and making a list of tables for each type of data, and writing your own script to dump and import just those tables (an approach which seems kludgey and error-prone), how can this be done?
UPDATE: There doesn't seem to be any way to do exactly what I'm asking how to do. Since both answers were very helpful, however (1st of all because they contain useful information, and secondly because they indirectly confirm that it's not currently possible to do in any practical way) I'm up-voting them and selecting one. I hope that by selecting an answer no one is confused into thinking that what I described is possible. (I've seen such things happen before.)