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Spontaneous order of adaptability: An assessment of the literature on social-ecological resilience
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm Environment Institute. (Naturresurshushållning)
Stockholm University, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
2012 (English)In: Ecology & society, ISSN 1708-3087, E-ISSN 1708-3087Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

This paper analyzes how adaptability is conceptualized (framed) in the literature on resilience and social-ecological systems (SES). SES are sometimes analyzed as complex adaptive systems (CAS) where human responses are seen as spontaneous and self-organized adaptations by autonomous agents with no analysis of their intentions or strategies. However, in other studies of SES, intentions and conflicts are emphasized and analyzed. Research on SES furthermore tends to differ in the degree of normative connotations associated with resilience and adaptability. For these two dimensions – spontaneous vs. intentional, and descriptive vs. normative – we developed a coding scheme and analyzed the complete sample of 183 papers in the field of found in ISI web of science published before 1st of Jan 2011. The results reveal a plurality of framings. We discuss the strengths and problems with this, aiming to provide a better understanding of some of the normative challenges in research on adaptive governance, resilience, and SES. We discuss CAS and find that the problem is not the use of self-organization in relation to scales or levels of governance, e.g. that responses can emerge through leadership and stakeholder interaction at a local level without being forced by external factors. The problem is when such interaction is as assumed to be autonomous and harmonious. Finally we provide our own definition of adaptability as necessarily ecologically informed, but we do not equate adaptability with “successful responses” in order to not confuse the concept with the outcome. Evaluating outcomes is ultimately an empirical question.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
Keyword [en]
Adaptive co-management; Adaptive capacity; Natural Resource Management; Economic efficiency
National Category
Other Natural Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-74835OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-74835DiVA: diva2:512321
Funder
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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