The social structural foundations of adaptation and transformation in social-ecological systems

Barnes, Michele L., Bodin, Örjan, Guerrero, Angela M., McAllister, Ryan R.J., Alexander, Steven M., and Robins, Garry (2017) The social structural foundations of adaptation and transformation in social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society, 22 (4). 16.

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Social networks are frequently cited as vital for facilitating successful adaptation and transformation in linked social-ecological systems to overcome pressing resource management challenges. Yet confusion remains over the precise nature of adaptation vs. transformation and the specific social network structures that facilitate these processes. Here, we adopt a network perspective to theorize a continuum of structural capacities in social-ecological systems that set the stage for effective adaptation and transformation. We begin by drawing on the resilience literature and the multilayered action situation to link processes of change in social-ecological systems to decision making across multiple layers of rules underpinning societal organization. We then present a framework that hypothesizes seven specific social-ecological network configurations that lay the structural foundation necessary for facilitating adaptation and transformation, given the type and magnitude of human action required. A key contribution of the framework is explicit consideration of how social networks relate to ecological structures and the particular environmental problem at hand. Of the seven configurations identified, three are linked to capacities conducive to adaptation and three to transformation, and one is hypothesized to be important for facilitating both processes. We discuss how our theoretical framework can be applied in practice by highlighting existing empirical examples from related environmental governance contexts. Further extension of our hypotheses, particularly as more data become available, can ultimately help guide the design of institutional arrangements to be more effective at dealing with change.

Item ID: 52163
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1708-3087
Keywords: adaptation, adaptive capacity, social-ecological system, social network, social-ecological network, transformation
Funders: National Science Foundation (NSF), Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CE), Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC CGS), National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEE), MISTRA
Projects and Grants: NSF Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Grant # 1513354, NSF grant #DBI-1052875, ARC-CEED CE11001000104
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2018 07:44
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441002 Environmental sociology @ 30%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441004 Social change @ 30%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4101 Climate change impacts and adaptation > 410103 Human impacts of climate change and human adaptation @ 40%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960301 Climate Change Adaptation Measures @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960599 Ecosystem Assessment and Management not elsewhere classified @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960799 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards not elsewhere classified @ 30%
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