Approach to value

Worldviews Types of values Scale Conflict Skills & effort
Value rooted in individuals and shaped by the social and cultural context. They can accommodate more than one worldview Intrinsic
Mostly local Conflicts are surfaced and can be dealt with Transdisciplinarity
Intensive field work
Social interaction skills

Cultural and social valuation methods are used in many disciplinary fields including sociology, anthropology and political ecology. A common assumption of cultural and social valuation methods is that values of nature, of nature’s contributions to people and of quality of life, are rooted in individuals and at the same time are shaped by the social and cultural context in which individuals are embedded. Thus, cultural and social valuation methods aim to valuate nature and its contributions to people by discovering the psychological, historical, cultural, social, ecological and political contexts and conditions (the broader social context), as well as the worldviews and social perceptions that shape individually held or commonly shared values. These methods are usually able to accommodate more than one worldview in the process of valuation and some of them can help make connections between conflicting worldviews.

Cultural and social valuation methods can reveal a wide range of value types including intrinsic, instrumental and relational values. They can also help understand how specific contexts give rise to certain value types. Typically, research on cultural and social valuation is done at local scales and human generations time scales. However, they tend to be heterogeneous in terms of the scale of social organization (e.g. individuals, communities, etc.).

Social and cultural valuation methods can bring to the surface conflicts over nature and its benefits to, and allow for better understanding of the implications for resource- and place-based communities. These methods engage people in the valuation process and thus lead to results which are more understandable and acceptable to them by reflecting the complexity of human perceptions.

Cultural and social valuation methods are particularly encouraged to engage a transdisciplinary approach bridging multiple disciplines and including non-scientist participants as partners. A case specific ‘code of research ethics’ discussed with and accepted by the communities involved in these methods can avoid or mitigate risks associated to the intensive fieldwork inherent them. Among practical considerations of cultural and social valuation methods we should note that they require strong social scientific skills and the commitment of those doing the valuation to be open reflexive and responsible for the communities involved.


Examples of tools