Opinion: Endogenizing culture in sustainability science research and policy

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
By: , and 

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Abstract

Integrating the analysis of natural and social systems to achieve sustainability has been an international scientific goal for years (1, 2). However, full integration has proven challenging, especially in regard to the role of culture (3), which is often missing from the complex sustainability equation. To enact policies and practices that can achieve sustainability, researchers and policymakers must do a better job of accounting for culture, difficult though this task may be.

The concept of culture is complex, with hundreds of definitions that for years have generated disagreement among social scientists (4). Understood at the most basic level, culture constitutes shared values, beliefs, and norms through which people “see,” interpret, or give meaning to ideas, actions, and environments. Culture is often used synonymously with “worldviews” or “cosmologies” (5, 6) to explain the patterned ways of assigning meanings and interpretations among individuals within groups. Used in this way, culture has been found to have only limited empirical support as an explanation of human risk perception (7, 8) and environmentalism (9).

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Opinion: Endogenizing culture in sustainability science research and policy
Series title Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
DOI 10.1073/pnas.1510010112
Volume 112
Issue 27
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 3 p.
First page 8157
Last page 8159