SES-Framework as boundary object to address theory orientation in social-ecological system research: The SES-TheOr approach

Summary

Social–ecological system (SES) research is inherently cross-disciplinary which can create multiple challenges for building knowledge of SES. Some of these challenges relate to differences in ontological commitments due to theory orientation of individual disciplines. Frameworks, understood as boundary objects, have been suggested as tools for dealing with this type of challenge.

This paper investigates this capacity of frameworks taking Elinor Ostroms' SES-Framework as an example. To this aim, we developed a generic approach (the SES-TheOr approach) to promote disclosure and bridge differences in ontological commitments in SES research. We then applied it for examining the use of the SES Framework as boundary object within a small cross-disciplinary research team. We found that the SES Framework provided a useful common reference and starting point for discussing variables but could not fully deal with theory orientation.

We conclude by suggesting that this may partly arise due to a tension between two competing SES Framework aims: on the one hand bridging differences in ontological commitments, and on the other hand ensuring a comparative function across cases.

Information

Link to centre authors: Hertz, Tilman, Schlüter, Maja
Publication info: Hertz, T., M. Schlüter. 2015. The SES-Framework as boundary object to address theory orientation in social-ecological system research: The SES-TheOr approach. Ecological Economics 116: 12–24

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