Participation as a pathway to pluralism: A critical view over diverse disciplines


Wider participation in ecosystem governance has been called for as a means to reach pluralism in biodiversity conservation research and practice. The logical arguments given are that plurality in worldviews, priorities and values (social plurality) should be brought to the table to be reflected in decision-making, via participation.

In this chapter, we give critical insight into participation as a pathway to recognizing social plurality in ecosystem governance. We highlight how different disciplines, beyond ecology, have tackled the topic of participation; including development studies and anthropology, governance and policy studies and transformations/transitions research. We look across this diverse literature to understand the ways in which different participatory approaches contribute to ecosystem governance. We outline how governance systems create multiple spaces for participation. We then explore key challenges faced when working within these spaces with the intention of addressing social plurality.

We discuss challenges of complexity, inclusion, conflict and power. In doing so, we present an argument that participation itself must be plural, in order to reflect the positioning within the governance system, and the context of power that it is taking place within. In recognizing that participation as a pathway to plurality cannot be a prescriptive process, we provide seven reflexive questions to steer its design and implementation.


Link to centre authors: Harmáčková, Zuzana
Publication info: Leventon, J., Suchá, L., Nohlová, B., Vaňo, S., Harmáčková, Z. 2022. Participation as a pathway to pluralism: A critical view over diverse disciplines. Advances in Ecological Research.


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