The Role of Information and Values in the Participatory Analysis of Social-Ecological Systems

Chapman, Alexander and Chapman, David Alan (2015). The Role of Information and Values in the Participatory Analysis of Social-Ecological Systems. In: ISIS Summit Vienna 2015—The Information Society at the Crossroads, article no. S1002.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/isis-summit-vienna-2015-S1002

URL: http://sciforum.net/conference/isis-summit-vienna-...

Abstract

Objectivism, supposing that information is ‘out there’ and can be accessed through appropriate research methods, is a valuable and unavoidable initial stance in field work. However, even within an objectivist paradigm, information gathered from field work can never be accepted uncritically, however rigorous the research methodology, since each step of the process from the choice of methodology onwards is driven and circumscribed by the values and beliefs of the participants.

In response to the growing threat of climatic change researchers are increasingly utilising social surveys to access information on human-environment interactions or the operation of “social-ecological” systems, in order to preserve key functions into the future. This paper explores the sources of uncertainty which emerge as simple environmental data transfers from participant to researcher. In particular, it considers the role that values can play in determining the quality of participant-reported quantitative environmental data, presented within the framework of Shannon’s standard communication model.

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