Incorporating multilevel values into the social-ecological systems framework

Carena J. van Riper, Andreas Thiel, Marianne Penker, Michael Braito, Adam C. Landon, Jennifer M. Thomsen, Catherine M. Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The social-ecological systems framework has guided investigations of complex interactions among ecosystems, society, and economies. In recent years, academics and practitioners have taken steps to strengthen this framework by calling for more systematic engagement with the cognitive and affective bases of human behavior. We suggest research that engages with multilevel values (i.e., individual, cultural, assigned) will be better positioned to understand how and why people cooperate in natural resource comanagement situations, and in turn, develop more effective strategies for mitigating and adapting to a changing world. We review three conceptualizations of the value concept operating within environmental governance regimes to offer a deeper understanding of how multilevel values fit within the social-ecological systems framework. Drawing on a conceptual model of these relationships, we share results from three example studies that demonstrate how values and governance can be more explicitly integrated in future research. We aim to stimulate a dialogue about the mutual benefits that can emerge from a fuller characterization of the relationship between values and environmental governance to manage for complexities of social-ecological systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Comanagement
  • Governance
  • Social learning
  • Social-ecological system
  • Values


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