Particular visions of urban development are often codified in multi-year resource management policies. These policies, and the negotiations leading to them, are based in specific problem frames and narratives with long legacies. As conditions change and knowledge improves, there is often a need to revisit how problems, opportunities, and development pathways were defined historically, and to consider the viability of alternative pathways for development. In this article, we examine the case of agriculture near Metropolitan Phoenix, in the Central Arizona region, to highlight how frames and narratives embedded in policy can reinforce particular development pathways, even as information, conditions, and values evolve. Using expert interviews and secondary data, we document alternative frames and narratives that may offer different pathways for development and sustainability in the region. By highlighting alternative narratives, we demonstrate the uncertainties and limitations associated with all narratives about development pathways, and explore the possibilities that narrative shifts can alter future outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-759
Number of pages17
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • Agriculture–urban interface
  • Arizona
  • Frames and narratives
  • Local agriculture
  • Pathways

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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