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The value of cultural theory for participatory processes in natural resource management

Participation is viewed as an important means for promoting the sustainable management of natural resources. However, it is not always successful. Conflicting values and power inequalities are all factors that can severely undermine participatory processes. This article focuses on differing views of reality and underlying cultural biases. The research states that cultural theory (CT), which subdivides the divergent notions of reality into four worldviews (hierarchism, individualism, egalitarianism, fatalism), could be a useful tool to gain insight in conflicting views of reality and the consequences of these conflicting views for participatory processes. To investigate the value of CT for participation, a study in Java, Indonesia, was carried out to determine to what extent worldviews can be used to predict preferred strategies in forestry problems. The results show that an empirical identification of worldviews was possible.