Sustainability and incommensurability: Narrative policy analysis with application to urban ecology

Raul P. Lejano, Nicola Newbery, Maegan Ciolino, David Newbery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sustainability entails considering multiple values in decision-making. However, evaluation most often devolves into thin, unidimensional interpretations of value (e.g., as market price). This article develops an alternative (narrative) mode of assessment that involves “thick” description that preserves the distinctiveness of different types of values, such as the cultural and ecological. The narrative approach combines otherwise incommensurable qualities into a coherent description of the situation, achieving integration not through commensuration but emplotment. The narrative analytic framework is described and then applied to a case study involving development around ecological habitat in Hong Kong. The article ends with a note on the applicability of narrative analytics for capturing sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106348
JournalEcological Economics
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Incommensurability
  • Narrative
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Environmental Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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