Values in place – open acces publication and thesis opportunity

Students interested in doing a thesis on this topic can contact me:  lummina.horlings@wur.nl

Societal change toward sustainability is accelerated not only by political systems or practical actions, but also by values which influence our attitudes and actions. The latter point has been termed as change ‘from the inside-out’ or the ‘interior’ subjective dimension of sustainability. However, not clear is what values exactly are and how they play a role in places. Therefore I have drafted an article on this topic now published in Regional Studies, Regional Science (open access): Values in place; A value-oriented approach toward sustainable place-shaping.

The aim of this paper is to understand how specifically processes of sustainable place-shaping are influenced by human values, rooted in culture. The argument is that practices of place-shaping can contribute to sustainable development of communities and regions using local resources, people’s capacities and the distinctiveness of places. The development and engagement of participant’s values in places can build co-creative capacity, contributing to change. The challenge of incorporating ‘values in place’ is to create a dialogue between actors, not based on personal interests, but on common agreed-upon motivational and symbolic values, directed to the common good.
The concept of value is often discussed in the context of economic value, expressed in monetary terms. However, values also reflect people’s core principles and motivations rooted in broader cultural value systems and worldviews. Furthermore they reflect how people value and appreciate their place, and subscribe symbolic meanings to places. Values hinder or foster the fulfilling of what people consider as worthwhile. In the paper different value-oriented approaches in the context of sustainable place-shaping are explored, an economic, intentional and symbolic dimension. Values are not self-standing concepts which can be mapped or analysed as atomized issues, but they are intertwined, context-determined, culturally varied and connected to how we see our self and how we perceive our environment and place. Values such as freedom, solidarity and justice only gain meaning in actual people and practices and can be considered as dynamic in space, place and time. A value-oriented approach can provide a more in-depth insight into what people appreciate, feel responsible for and are willing to commit to in the context of their place.
For more information see the abstract and full article: L.G. Horlings (2015) Values in place; A value-oriented approach toward sustainable place-shaping. Regional Studies, Regional Science, Volume 2, Issue 1, pages 256-273, open access, DOI:10.1080/21681376.2015.1016097.

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