Incorporating Sociocultural Phenomena into Ecosystem-Service Valuation: The Importance of Critical Pluralism

Carena J van Riper, Adam C Landon, Sarah Kidd, Patrick Bitterman, Lee A Fitzgerald, Elise F Granek, Sonia Ibarra, David Iwaniec, Christopher M Raymond, David Toledo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Ecosystem-services scholarship has largely focused on monetary valuation and the material contributions of ecosystems to human well-being. Increasingly, research is calling for a deeper understanding of how less tangible, nonmaterial values shape management and stakeholder decisions. We propose a framework that characterizes a suite of sociocultural phenomena rooted in key social science disciplines that are currently underrepresented in the ecosystem-services literature. The results from three example studies are presented to demonstrate how the tenets of this conceptual model can be applied in practice. We consider the findings from these studies in light of three priorities for future research: (1) complexities in individual and social functioning, (2) the salience and specificity of the perceived benefits of nature, and (3) distinctions among value concepts. We also pose a series of questions to stimulate reflection on how ecosystem-services research can adopt more pluralistic viewpoints that accommodate different forms of knowledge and its acquisition.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)233–244
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 519 Social and economic geography

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