DDD Conference

Dr. Jessica Schäckermann

The Impact of Social Structure on Open-Land Development Preferences in the Southern Arava

Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, Israel


Despite the harsh climate, the Arava Valley is currently home to over 5,000 people living within 12 communities. While residents of the Arava Valley share the same environmental conditions, the social context of each of the 12 communities is unique. We examined the relationship between social structure and preferences regarding open-land development. We ask if preferences regarding development are correlated to the social structure of each community. The objective was to understand if and how social structure influences respondents’ prioritization of ecosystem and environmental services in the context of open-land development. Six communities were selected for comparison based on their differences in social structure. A mixed methods approach, including semi-structured interviews and mixed fixed response/open-ended survey questions, was used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data from residents.

We found that development preferences were similar across all six communities. Environmental conservation and renewable energy were consistently ranked highly important across all communities. Rather than finding differences according to social context, our findings demonstrate the shared environmental values and development preferences of residents of the Southern Arava. Other factors than the social structure seem to influence development preferences of residents, which needs to be considered by planners.

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