Sub-theme 11. Advances in Frameworks and Theory
Boundary objects for moving beyond panaceas: Engaging with diverse perspectives influencing social ecological systems research
Are we moving beyond institutional panaceas? Twenty years after the Drama of the Commons (2002), our world is more interdependent and polarised, yet fundamental challenges remain: globalisation, inequalities, and transboundary conflicts. SES scholars are thus increasingly researching topics that have a long intellectual genealogy within other disciplines (e.g., anthropology, economics) and transdisciplinary domains of research (e.g., political ecology). This cross-fertilization has created plurality around a set of key boundary objects – concepts common to multiple fields of research but interpreted and operationalised differently across them. Each such perspective uniquely interprets words like “commons”, “markets”, or “institutions”. The word “commons” for example may signify resource systems (which may be physical or conceptual entities such as fisheries or knowledge commons); it may also signify deeply political processes of “commoning”.
This panel seeks to foster productive dialogue between different common terms used in SES literature and their plural interpretations. We recognize the need to acknowledge the diversity of interpretations both from the perspective of empirical anchoring and from that of different resources and contexts. We ask: how are these boundary objects (re)conceived by different disciplines? How are commons and SES scholars contributing to these debates? What frameworks and methods can foster convergence on essential features of these concepts, whilst respecting differences and debates across fields? Put simply, how can we work together… Realizing the pressing need to bridge across disciplines and schools of thought, we welcome contributions from fellow scholars and practitioners to discuss ways in which we may engage with, interpret, and draw on multiple perspectives that may be used to frame research anchored within SES studies.
1. Using panarchy to develop long term system wide perspectives on social ecological system transformations
1Azim Premji University, India, 2The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
The concept of panarchy is integral to ideas of system resilience and change. However, there is a poverty of long-term historical perspectives around social ecological system change that operationalize panarchy. Further, most studies around operationalizing panarchy are relatively silent on the role of power in enabling transitions from one system state into the next and the relative stability of these different states of being. Our hypothesis is that panarchy can provide an entry point for SES studies to approach the recognized gap of systematically studying historical SES transformations. In this paper we thus focus on developing a long-term perspective on social ecological system change using the case of the networked urban lake system of Bengaluru, India. We use the concept of panarchy to identify different states of the system as well as the slow and fast drivers influencing system shifts from one state of being into another. At the same time, we include explicit consideration of power dynamics that underlie the specific set of variables that influence system change. In so doing, we demonstrate how panarchy can be used to identify long term social ecological changes within mid to large scale systems in ways that are sensitive to broad systemic shifts as well as the specific contexts and triggers which enable such transitions. Such consideration may aid in the development of long-term perspectives for managing social ecological systems in ways that are sensitive to the specific ecological and social contexts within which they emerge.
2. Intersectionality and Ostrom: a (re)interpretation of the Design Principles
1The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom, 2Azim Premji University, India
Intersectionality is a critical lens to examine place-based community action. The centrality of intersectional perspectives to adaptation planning is evident within the sixth assessment report of the IPCC in which the inclusion of multiple perspectives has been highlighted as an important adaptation strategy. Emerging from within black feminist studies, intersectionality refers to the idea that race, class, gender, and other social vulnerabilities are interdependent and mutually intersect with each other, producing a complex context-dependent mosaic of power relations that determine an individual or collective’s experiences or perspectives within society (Hill-Collins, 2019). For the Bloomington School of thought, this perspective is particularly important to unpack two key scholarly gaps. Firstly, it offers a key to unpack dynamics of power operating within and across communities and secondly it allows us to account for intra community diversity.
A key point of overlap between the two schools of thought are Ostrom’s design principles. These principles refer to a series of characteristics found in successful common property regimes. First conceptualized by Ostrom (1990) and since then expanded by Cox et al (2010), the Design Principles are influential in elucidating details of collective action in practice within sectors such as forestry, energy, and water. However, they do not acknowledge dynamics caused by intersectional identities of actors engaged within collective action situations. In this paper, we attempt to address this gap by developing an intersectional perspective to unpacking the design principles when studying a collective action problem and further demonstrating its applicability through the case of an experimental community energy system in Mozambique.
3. Games of power: using game theory to untangle different theories of power
1Cornell University, USA, 2Urban Institute, The University of Sheffield, UK
Power takes many forms in social situations and influences dynamics and outcomes in social-ecological systems (SESs) everyday. Game theory -usually used by economists- reduces social situations between different entities (groups or individuals) to games, which elaborate strategies, pay-offs, and overall outcomes of these situations. The canonical two-players-by-two-choices games (called 2x2s) from game theory can be used to depict a wide diversity of social interdependence relationships beyond the archetypical social dilemma. We are going to express theories of power from across social sciences using 2by2s. We sort out the most relevant games from the archetypical 2by2s of interdependence (see Bruns and Kimmich 2021) and relate them to typologies of power within the domain of SES governance. Our results show a) some theories of power are ambiguous in their formulation, obfuscating their successful integration in economic considerations where they would be relevant to policies governing SESs; b) where economics is missing a wider diversity of games to consider for policies to govern SESs. We see this paper as contributing to synthesis and communication across different fields relevant to SES governance.
Contribution towards the panel:
Power is a factor in institutional questions around SESs and heavily influences outcomes in resource systems (see SESF) and action situations (see IADF), it needs to be communicated to different disciplines, in different manners. Economics has a vital role in modern-day policy advice as it usually is the economist who is being called upon to direct governmental monies. Yet, the lack of consideration of power governing resource dynamics as suggested by economists is stunning. We use 2by2s as boundary object to communicate with economists.
4. Community-based environmental markets (CBEMs) in the water, fisheries and forest sectors: towards a classification typology
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain
In the last few decades, the diversity of governance solutions proposed by scientists and policymakers for environmental problems has increased substantially. The traditional trichotomy of state, market and community governance has been replaced by a new interest in hybrid solutions in the recognition that no single governance mode possesses the capabilities to address the multiple facets, interdependencies, and scales of current environmental problems. This paper takes stock of experiences that combine community based-natural resource management (CBNRM) and market-based solutions, or as we call them community-based environmental markets (CBEMs). We propose a classification system for CBEMs based on the nature of the good or ecosystem service that is being transacted and the property rights that communities and individuals hold with respect to those goods or services.
5. Spillovers: How Externalities and Equity Norms Shape the Co-Evolution of Water Markets and the Commons
University of Waterloo, Canada and University of Oxford, UK
The search for institutional solutions to water scarcity often leads to water markets, a classic institutional panacea seen as a universal prescription to competition over water regardless of context. However, critiques of water markets often ignore their institutional diversity and the prevalence of equity norms in their design and evolution. In this paper, I seek to understand the institutional diversity of water markets through the lens of spillovers, a common synonym for externalities. Spillovers are both a metaphor and means of drawing attention to complex and nested externalities as transactions move water across space and time. Tracing the flow of water and money through water markets, and the associated externalities, highlights the porous and contested boundaries of water markets in terms of what happens within the market and what – and who – lies outside of it. Drawing on diverse, long-lived cases, the contribution of this paper is to identify the types of externalities associated with water markets, and the patterns of conflict and cooperation by those who stand to win and lose. In so doing, the analysis illustrates the scope and limits for people and communities to govern water markets, and it illustrates the growing range of safeguards for addressing the externalities and distributional conflicts across sectors and political boundaries.