Research fellow, Regime shifts Baltic sea

+46 8 674 70 00



Staff profile

Wijnand Boonstra works as researcher in the FORMAS-sponsored project
“Regime Shifts in the Baltic Sea Ecosystem-Modeling Complex Adaptive
Ecosystems and Governance"

Profile summary

  • Educated at Wageningen University (WUR) with a PhD. in Rural Sociology
  • He is particularly interested in understanding how individual use of ecosystems aggregates to form so-called regimes of ecosystem use
  • Before joining the centre in 2010, he worked at the Swedish University for Agricultural
    Sciences (SLU)

In this project he studies the ways in which people use and manage the Baltic Sea from a sociological and historical perspective.

He is particularly interested in understanding how individual use of ecosystems aggregates to form so-called regimes of ecosystem use. Describing and explaining the complex set of social and ecological conditions and their interaction at micro and macro scales that cause these regimes to shift, is a key research objective.

Education and work experience
Wijnand is educated at Wageningen University (WUR), where he completed both his MSc. and PhD. in Rural Sociology which can be understood as the study of human social behaviour in rural areas.

During his MSc. he investigated the dependence of livelihood security on the access to fish in a rural village, Mpiranjala, situated at the northern edge of Lake Chilwa, in Malawi. He also researched the local diversity of farming styles in a neo-liberal policy context, through farmer interviews conducted in Wantabadgery, a small rural community in New South Wales, Australia.

From 2001 until 2006 he worked on his PhD. Thesis, Polder Limits, at the Rural Sociology Department of WUR. This study explains, using case study research in South-East Fryslân and Langbroekerwetering, how value-conflicts in Dutch rural land use are politically accommodated.

Before joining the centre in 2010, Wijnand worked at the Department of Urban and Rural Development at the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

Selected publications
- Boonstra, W.J. & Nguyen Bach Dang (2010) A history of breaking laws — Social dynamics of non-compliance in Vietnamese marine fisheries. Marine Policy 34 (6), pp. 1261-1267.

- Boonstra, W.J. & B.B. Bock (2009) Fallacies of virtualisation: a case study of farming, manure, landscape and Dutch rural policy. Science, Technology & Human Values 34 (4): 427-448.

- Boonstra, W.J. & A. van den Brink, (2007), Controlled decontrolling: involution and democratisation in Dutch rural planning, Planning Theory and Practice.8 (4), pp. 473-488.

- Boonstra, W.J., (2006) Policies in the polder: how institutions mediate between norms and practices of rural governance, Sociologia Ruralis 64 (4), pp. 299-317.

- Boonstra, W.J. (2006) How to account for stakeholders' perceptions in Dutch rural policy? pp. 145-155. In: Brink, M. van den & T. Metze (eds.) Words matter in policy and planning: discourse theory and method in the social sciences. Utrecht: Nederlandse Geografische Studies 344.

- Boonstra, W.J. & J. Frouws (2005) Conflicts about water: a case study of contest and power in Dutch rural policy. Journal of Rural Studies 21 (3), pp. 297-312.

- Boonstra, W.J. (2002) Bedrijfsstijlen als effect van liberalisatie. Tijdschrift voor Sociaal-wetenschappelijk onderzoek van de Landbouw 17 (1), pp. 21-35.


Boonstra, Wijnand

Publications by Boonstra, Wijnand

Dwelling in the biosphere: exploring an embodied human–environment connection in resilience thinking

Cooke, B., S. West, W.J. Boonstra

2016 - Journal / article

Resilience has emerged as a prominent paradigm for interpreting and shaping human–environment connections in the context of global environmental change. Resilience emphasizes dynamic spatial and temporal change in social–ecological systems where humans are inextricably interwoven with the environment. While influential, resilience thinking has been critiqued for an under-theorized framing of socio-cultural dynamics. In this paper, we examine how the resilience concepts of planetary boundaries and reconnecting to the biosphere frame human–environment connection in terms of mental representations and biophysical realities. We argue that focusing solely on mental reconnection limits further integration between the social and the ecological, thus countering a foundational commitment in resilience thinking to social–ecological interconnectedness. To address this susceptibility we use Tim Ingold’s ‘dwelling perspective’ to outline an embodied form of human–environment (re)connection. Through dwelling, connections are not solely produced in the mind, but through the ongoing interactivity of mind, body and environment through time. Using this perspective, we position the biosphere as an assemblage that is constantly in the making through the active cohabitation of humans and nonhumans. To illustrate insights that may emerge from this perspective we bring an embodied connection to earth stewardship, given its growing popularity for forging local to global sustainability transformations.

Trends in marine climate change research in the Nordic region since the first IPCC report

Pedersen, M.W., A. Kokkalis, H. Bardarson, S. Bonanomi, W.J. Boonstra, W.E. Butler, F.K. Diekert, N. Fouzai, M. Holma, R.E. Holt, K.Ø. Kvile, E. Nieminen, K.M. Ottosen, A. Richter, L.A. Rogers, G. Romagnoni, M. Snickars, A. Törnroos, B. Weigel, J.D. Whittington, P. Woods, J. Yletyinen, A.S.A. Ferreira

2015 - Journal / article

Oceans are exposed to anthropogenic climate change shifting marine systems toward potential instabilities. The physical, biological and social implications of such shifts can be assessed within individual scientific disciplines, but can only be fully understood by combining knowledge and expertise across disciplines. For climate change related problems these research directions have been well-established since the publication of the first IPCC report in 1990, however it is not well-documented to what extent these directions are reflected in published research. Focusing on the Nordic region, we evaluated the development of climate change related marine science by quantifying trends in number of publications, disciplinarity, and scientific focus of 1362 research articles published between 1990 and 2011. Our analysis showed a faster increase in publications within climate change related marine science than in general marine science indicating a growing prioritisation of research with a climate change focus. The composition of scientific disciplines producing climate change related publications, which initially was dominated by physical sciences, shifted toward a distribution with almost even representation of physical and biological sciences with social sciences constituting a minor constant proportion. These trends suggest that the predominantly model-based directions of the IPCC have favoured the more quantitatively oriented natural sciences rather than the qualitative traditions of social sciences. In addition, despite being an often declared prerequisite to successful climate science, we found surprisingly limited progress in implementing interdisciplinary research indicating that further initiatives nurturing scientific interactions are required.

What are the major global threats and impacts in marine environments? Investigating the contours of a shared perception among marine scientists from the bottom-up

Boonstra, W.J., K.M. Ottosen, A.S.A. Ferreira, A. Richter, L.A. Rogers, M.W. Pedersen, A. Kokkalis, H. Bardarson, S. Bonanomi, W. Butler, F.K. Diekert, N. Fouzai, M. Holma, R.E. Holt, K. Kvile, E. Malanski, J.I. Macdonald, E. Nieminen, G. Romagnoni, M. Snickars, B. Weigel, P. Woods, J. Yletyinen, J.D. Whittington

2015 - Journal / article

Marine scientists broadly agree on which major processes influence the sustainability of marine environments worldwide. Recent studies argue that such shared perceptions crucially shape scientific agendas and are subject to a confirmation bias. Based on these findings a more explicit engagement with scientists’ (shared) perceptions of global change in marine environments is called for. This paper takes stock of the shared understanding in marine science of the most pertinent, worldwide threats and impacts that currently affect marine environments. Using results from an email survey among leading academics in marine science this article explores if a shared research agenda in relation to global change in marine environments exists. The analysis demonstrates that marine scientists across disciplines are largely in agreement on some common features of global marine change. Nevertheless, the analysis also highlights where natural and social scientists diverge in their assessment. The article ends discussing what these findings imply for further improvement of interdisciplinary marine science.

Adaptation to climate change as social–ecological trap: a case study of fishing and aquaculture in the Tam Giang Lagoon, Vietnam

Boonstra, W.J., T.T.H. Hanh.

2015 - Journal / article

The ways in which people respond to climate change are frequently analyzed and explained with the term "adaptation". Conventionally, adaptation is understood as adjustments in behavior either to mitigate harm or to exploit opportunities emerging from climate change. The idea features prominently in scientific analyses as well as in policy programs. Despite its growing popularity over the years, the concept has also received critique. Social scientists in particular take issue wit the implicit assumptions about human behavior and "fitness advantages" (or optimal behavior) that come with the term. Clearly, not all human and animal behavioral responses are “optimal” or display "fitness advantages". To the contrary, sub-optimal and maladaptive behavior is rather widespread. Explaining the possibility of maladaptive or sub-optimal behavior led scholars to introduce the idea of "traps". Tra situations refer to a mismatch between behavior and the social and/or ecological conditions in which this behavior takes place. This paper reviews the analytical value of traps for the study of human responses to climate change. It first lays out the theoretical assumptions underpinning the concept. A case study of the Tam Giang Lagoon, in central Vietnam, is used to evaluate how well the trap concept captures the sub-optimality and variety of human responses to climate change.

Boonstra, Wijnand

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

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