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Archetypes depict representative patterns, i.e. similarities and differences, in socio-ecological interactions. With this generalisation, archetype analysis supports the scaling and transfer of knowledge from one place to another in a systematic way. The underlying assumption is that similarities in social-ecological conditions link to similarities in sustainability interventions.
Archetype analysis in sustainability research has been used to understand factors and processes that repeatedly determine the (un)sustainability of social-ecological systems. This includes development drivers and outcomes related to livelihood vulnerability, land use, economic development, food security, and climate adaptation, among others. Archetypes are useful to understand functional similarities and differences in a broader perspective and inform decisions that need to be made across diverse spatial scales, linking local realities with global change processes.
This working group will advance two pillars of GLP’s Science Plan 2016-2021. First, this working group will provide a platform to advance methodologies for analyzing and synthesizing recurrent patterns from contextualized case studies by using the archetype approach. Second, it will advance analysis on land governance including by building bridges to the research community of institutional analysis of the commons.
The specific objectives of this Working Group are:
to consolidate the archetype approach by taking stock of applications, methods, roots, opportunities and current limitations;
to push current methodological frontiers by encouraging methodological debate and cutting-edge applications;
to advance understanding of key sustainability challenges and opportunities by presenting new applications of archetype analysis;
to provide a platform to bridge land system science and institutional analysis/commons research communities to advance case study synthesis methods and analysis of land governance, and
to provide a platform for a next generation of archetype analysis.
Archetype analysis is a powerful approach to reveal recurrent patterns of factors and processes that shape the sustainability of social-ecological systems. Knowledge of archetypical patterns across cases has supported a better understanding of key sustainability challenges related to land use, climate change adaptation, vulnerability, large-scale land acquisition, ecological footprints, and regional development, among others. The approach featured prominently in UNEP’s (2007) Global Environmental Outlook 4, and it has been applied to a growing range of topics in the past years. Archetypical patterns can be analyzed using diverse qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods (e.g. qualitative comparative analysis, cluster analysis, meta-analysis of case studies, scenario development). The choice of methods depends on the purpose and context of the research. However, best practices of archetype analysis and promising combinations of multiple methods are currently a prime frontier of innovation.