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Does social learning lead to better governance?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm Environment Institute. (Naturresurshushållning)
(English)In: Society & Natural Resources, ISSN 0894-1920, E-ISSN 1521-0723Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

This study investigates whether social learning among large scale farmers in  central Sweden leads to improved environmental governance. Three different framings of  social learning are first identified: as learning within established communities of practices; as  multiparty collaboration cross different communities; and as explicitly tied to desirable  outcomes. Applying the first two, the paper investigates social learning as an independent variable through semi-structured in-depth interviews. Results show that learning among farmers is inherently social, but does not necessarily improve environmental governance. Without the presence of policy or externally facilitating factors social learning is not found to explain better governance. The paper concludes that the call for social learning based on successful lessons form instrumental use, risk obscuring the fact that both social learning and better governance are often conditioned by other mitigating or enabling factors. 

Keyword [en]
Social learning; Agriculture; Communities of practice; Goverance; Natural resource management
National Category
Other Natural Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-74834OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-74834DiVA: diva2:512315
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas
Available from: 2012-03-27 Created: 2012-03-27 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Social learning in the Anthropocene: Governance of natural resources in human dominated systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Social learning in the Anthropocene: Governance of natural resources in human dominated systems
2012 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

We live in the Anthropocene – an age where humans dominate natural systems – and there is ample evidence that our current practices degrade the capacity of natural systems to provide us with natural resources. How we, as humans, organize and learn, in communities and among state and other societal actors, constitute a decisive factor for both local management of natural resources and the functioning of the planet Earth. In other words, the outcome of learning has become a matter of governance across multiple levels. This thesis studies the role of social learning in governance of natural resources, asking the following three overarching questions: i) What are the institutional barriers limiting better environmental governance at different scales? ii) Is there a causal connection between social learning and better environmental governance? iii) What are the normative challenges with better environmental governance or social-ecological resilience being linked to the adaptive capacity of actors to learn socially? The primary method is semi-structured in-depth interviews. Papers provide results on institutional barriers such as competency traps and show how customs and current practices and collaborations limit better environmental governance. It is found that social learning might, and might not, lead to better environmental governance, and the causal connection between social learning and better environmental governance is found to be rather weak, with both variables depending on other factors. Enabling policy, a mandate to make broad assessments, or an engaged leader facilitating social learning, are examples of factors that explain the existence of both social learning and outcomes in terms of better environmental governance. It is concluded that since conditions for, and facilitation of, social learning are so important, research should focus more on what initiates social learning and how social learning can be mainstreamed across multiple levels of governance

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 2012. 48 p.
Keyword
social learning, multi-level governance, resilience, adaptability, natural resource management, institutions, policy making, impact assessments
National Category
Other Natural Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-74836 (URN)978-91-7447-484-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-06-08, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Submitted: Paper 4: Submitted; Paper 5: Submitted.Available from: 2012-05-10 Created: 2012-03-27 Last updated: 2012-05-03Bibliographically approved

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