Norms and values in sociohydrological models

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, 2018, 22 (2), pp. 1337 - 1349
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© Author(s) 2018. Sustainable water resources management relies on understanding how societies and water systems coevolve. Many place-based sociohydrology (SH) modeling studies use proxies, such as environmental degradation, to capture key elements of the social component of system dynamics. Parameters of assumed relationships between environmental degradation and the human response to it are usually obtained through calibration. Since these relationships are not yet underpinned by social-science theories, confidence in the predictive power of such place-based sociohydrologic models remains low. The generalizability of SH models therefore requires major advances in incorporating more realistic relationships, underpinned by appropriate hydrological and social-science data and theories. The latter is a critical input, since human culture - especially values and norms arising from it - influences behavior and the consequences of behaviors. This paper reviews a key social-science theory that links cultural factors to environmental decision-making, assesses how to better incorporate social-science insights to enhance SH models, and raises important questions to be addressed in moving forward. This is done in the context of recent progress in sociohydrological studies and the gaps that remain to be filled. The paper concludes with a discussion of challenges and opportunities in terms of generalization of SH models and the use of available data to allow future prediction and model transfer to ungauged basins.
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