New book on social networks and natural resource management

First to fully explore use of social network analysis in natural resource governance

Fishmongers in Zanzibar gut and cut up big fishes before they are transported in to town or out to the villages. Studies done in eastern African fishing villages show that bridging ties between different groups and networks can influence natural resource governance. Photo: J. Lokantz/Azote
Previous centre research has shown the crucial importance of social networks. Indeed, Social Network Analysis (SNA), a quantitative approach to the study of social relations, has increasingly emerged as a key tool for understanding the governance of natural resources.

In a new book entitled "Social Networks and Natural Resource Management: Uncovering the Social Fabric of Environmental Governance", the use of SNA in studying natural resource management is explored.

The book is edited by centre researcher Örjan Bodin together with Dr. Cristina Prell at University of Maryland.
"In this book we propose a social relational approach as both conceptual and analytical framework for uncovering how social factors affect natural resource governance," Bodin says.

Uncovers complex patterns of interactions
Just as understanding of the environment has moved towards a systems' perspective of interacting parts and emergent wholes, so has the notion of understanding human and social behavior moved to one of seeing individuals in the context of their relationships with others.

"We try to show how the relational approach gives the researcher the means to uncover and analyse the complex patterns of interactions among actors characterising most real-world governance settings, and how this can be used to explain various governance outcomes, and also in furthering the development of different theoretical frameworks," Bodin explains.
Concepts supported by case studies
The book, which also includes contributions from several other centre researchers, offers numerous case studies of SNA concepts that are linked to the theories underlying natural resource governance. These concepts include social learning, adaptive co-management and social movements theory.
Topics covered the book include:
- the role of SNA in stakeholder selection

- improving fisheries management and conservation through communication and learning

- adaptive management and social networks

- the effect of social network ties on public satisfaction and agrarian communication networks.
"This book will enable the reader to move beyond just acknowledging the importance of social networks and instead provide more depth and precision in understanding how social networks, and their internal and external characteristics, affect natural resource governance outcomes," Bodin concludes.

See whiteboard seminar with centre reseacher Beatrice Crona explaining social network analysis:

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