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Loving the mess: navigating diversity and conflict in social values for sustainability


Kenter, JO and Raymond, CM and van Riper, CJ and Azzopardi, E and Brear, MR and Calcagni, F and Christie, I and Christie, M and Fordham, A and Gould, RK and Ives, CD and Hejnowicz, AP and Gunton, R and Horcea-Milcu, A-I and Kendal, D and Kronenberg, J and Massenberg, JR and O'Connor, S and Ravenscroft, N and Rawluk, A and Raymond, IJ and Rodriguez-Morales, J and Thankappan, S, Loving the mess: navigating diversity and conflict in social values for sustainability, Sustainability Science, 14, (5) pp. 1439-1461. ISSN 1862-4057 (2019) [Refereed Article]

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© The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

DOI: doi:10.1007/s11625-019-00726-4


This paper concludes a special feature of Sustainability Science that explores a broad range of social value theoretical traditions, such as religious studies, social psychology, indigenous knowledge, economics, sociology, and philosophy. We introduce a novel transdisciplinary conceptual framework that revolves around concepts of ‘lenses’ and ‘tensions’ to help navigate value diversity. First, we consider the notion of lenses: perspectives on value and valuation along diverse dimensions that describe what values focus on, how their sociality is envisioned, and what epistemic and procedural assumptions are made. We characterise fourteen of such dimensions. This provides a foundation for exploration of seven areas of tension, between: (1) the values of individuals vs collectives; (2) values as discrete and held vs embedded and constructed; (3) value as static or changeable; (4) valuation as descriptive vs normative and transformative; (5) social vs relational values; (6) different rationalities and their relation to value integration; (7) degrees of acknowledgment of the role of power in navigating value conflicts. In doing so, we embrace the ‘mess’ of diversity, yet also provide a framework to organise this mess and support and encourage active transdisciplinary collaboration. We identify key research areas where such collaborations can be harnessed for sustainability transformation. Here it is crucial to understand how certain social value lenses are privileged over others and build capacity in decision-making for understanding and drawing on multiple value, epistemic and procedural lenses.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:shared values, relational values, environmental values, knowledge brokering, epistemology, interdisciplinarity, ecosystem services, nature’s contributions to people
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Urban and regional planning
Research Field:Land use and environmental planning
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Kendal, D (Dr Dave Kendal)
ID Code:134968
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:81
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2019-09-17
Last Modified:2020-05-21
Downloads:29 View Download Statistics

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