This special feature provides an impression of the plurality of social values for sustainability, taking into account theoretical traditions within mainstream and heterodox economics; positive, social and environmental psychology; human geography; anthropology; sociology; religious and indigenous studies and business management. Papers in this issue respond to questions of: how do we conceptualise social values; how do we integrate or share social values; what are processes for learning about and mechanisms for forming and changing social values; and what are the associations between social values and behaviour or well-being? Consistent with post-normal science, we suggest that there is no one correct way of conceptualising, assessing, integrating or activating social values for sustainability. We present five arguments: (1) the plurality of social values can be conceptualised along many different dimensions, with reference to value, epistemic and procedural lenses; (2) values are nested in different hierarchies, resulting in the potential for different forms of value articulations and pathways of value expression; (3) not all social values are pre-formed and readily drawn upon, instead needing pathways of deliberation or intervention to be activated; (4) social values may change through different processes or pathways of intervention, and; (5) power matters in the formation and assessment of social values. We discuss the tensions that arise when attempting to integrate different perspectives and introduce the notion of ‘navigation’ to begin to address these tensions. Navigation requires scholars to adopt a more critical and reflexive approach to value enquiry than is currently espoused in sustainability science and practice.
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- Ecosystem services
- Integrated valuation
- Non-monetary valuation
- Social values