Archetype Analysis in Sustainability Research

Archetype analysis is increasingly used as a methodological approach to understand recurrent patterns that shape the sustainability of social-ecological systems.

In order to find middle ground between the "ideographic trap" and the "nomothetic trap", the approach aims at explaining diverse phenomena under particular conditions. An archetype analysis thus studies a suite of (i.e. multiple) patterns, each called an archetype. The approach is open to many empirical and analytical techniques, and open to different epistemic backgrounds, ranging from the natural to the social sciences.

A growing international network of scholars and analysts uses and improves archetype analysis for issues like sustainable land-use, adaptation to climate change, biodiversity or resource overuse. So far, there have been four scientific workshops (Bern 2017, Berlin 2018, Olomouc 2019, Stockholm 2021).

A Special Feature in Ecology and Society presents peer-reviewed papers on the fundamentals of archetype analysis and several example applications.

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Archetype analysis on twitter.

There is also a archetype working group in the Global Land Program.

Artist: Anne Ludwig, "Dom Mosaik"

Last update: March 20, 2021, Klaus Eisenack