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Ecosystem services and the idea of shared values

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Publication details

JournalEcosystem Services
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Jul 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 21 Oct 2016
DatePublished (current) - Oct 2016
Issue numberPart B
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)184-193
Early online date21/10/16
Original languageEnglish


Ecosystem services conceptualise the diverse values that ecosystems provide to humanity. This was recognised in the United Kingdom's National Ecosystem Assessment, which noted that appreciation of the full value of ecosystem services requires recognition of values that are shared. By operationalising the shared values concept, it is argued that the contribution of ecosystem services to human well-being can be represented more holistically. This paper considers current understanding of shared values and develops a new metanarrative of shared values beyond the aggregated utilities of individuals. This metanarrative seeks to conceptualise how values can be held both individually and communally, and what this means for identifying their scale and means of enumeration. The paper poses a new reading of the idea of shared values that reconciles the elicitation of pre-formed individual values with the formation and expression of shared social values. The implication is that shared values need to be conceived as normative constructs that are derived through social processes of value formation and expression. Shared values thus do not necessarily exist a priori; they can be deliberated through formal and informal processes through which individuals can separate their own preferences from a broader metanarrative about what values ought to be shared.

Bibliographical note

© 2016 The Authors.

    Research areas

  • Deliberation, Ecological economics, Ecosystem service valuation, Public forests, Shared values, Value formation

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