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.
Research news | 2018-07-10
The World in 2050 initiative launches new report outlining synergies and benefits that render the goals achievable
Educational news | 2018-07-02
LEAP our leadership programme designed for changemakers that want to lead social-ecological transformations to sustainability. Application deadline is 5 August 2018.
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Research news | 2018-06-26
Profit-maximizing approaches are most likely to produce outcomes that harm people or the environment. But it depends on the circumstances whether a sustainable or a safe approach is most suitable, new study argues
General news | 2018-06-20
Will lead a redesign of the organisational structure at the centre
Research news | 2018-06-20
New book chapter looks into the economic, cultural and ecological reasons why some people leave the fisheries and aquaculture sector, and what could be done to reverse the trend