Social learning as a link between the individual and the collective: evaluating deliberation on social values

Max Eriksson, Carena J. van Riper, Ben Leitschuh, Amanda Bentley Brymer, Andrea Rawluk, Christopher M. Raymond, Jasper O. Kenter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of social learning in deliberative processes is an emerging area of research in sustainability science. Functioning as a link between the individual and the collective, social learning has been envisioned as a process that can empower and give voice to a diverse set of stakeholder viewpoints, contribute to more adaptive and resilient management decisions and foster broader societal transformations. However, despite its widespread use in the context of participatory management of natural resources, the empirical properties of social learning remain understudied. This paper evaluates the role of social interaction and social capital in achieving transformative learning in discussions about social values. We employ a longitudinal design involving three consecutive surveys of 25 participants of an expert workshop focused on social values, as well as approximately 12 hours of transcribed audio and video recordings of participant interactions. Our mixed methods approach demonstrates the potential of using changes in social networks and definitions of social values that emerge from qualitative coding as indicators of social learning. We find that individuals with a weaker conceptual understanding of social values are more likely to change their definitions of the concept after deliberation. Though slight, these changes display a shift towards definitions more firmly held by other group members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1323-1332
Number of pages10
JournalSustainability Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2 2019


  • Mixed methods
  • Social capital
  • Social learning
  • Social values
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Health(social science)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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