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Conference on Applications of Network Theory
Conference on Applications of Network Theory
7-9 April 2011
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Archetypical micro-configurations of social-ecological systems: a bottom-up network approach in studying complex social-ecological systems
Abstract: When conceptualizing integrated social-ecological
systems (SES), the modeling approaches commonly applied are
often (a) based in ecology with social aspects added
afterwards, or (b) based in social science with aspects of
the natural environment added afterwards. So far there are
few integrated conceptual modeling approaches that, from
start, fully embrace the complex linkages that exists
between societies and nature. We argue that this is needed
to advance the understanding of SES. Also, given the
complexity of SES, there is a need for conceptual modeling
approaches that can simplify while still retaining the
essential characteristics of a complex SES.   As a response
to this challenge, the generic systems perspective of
network analysis has been suggested as a way to better
capture, and make explicit, the inevitable and complex
interrelation that exist between the natural and social
subsystems. In such a model, all different social and
ecological entities making up a SES are modeled as a set of
interdependent nodes in a social-ecological network. Since
neither the social nor the ecological parts are given any
precedence in such model, new and novel transdisciplinary
approaches seems feasible. Although an interesting and
promising overall suggestion, it is however not entirely
clear how such approach could, in detail, be applied in
researching SES.   In this work we contribute to such
development by conceptualizing SES as a set of different
network-based archetypical SES configurations each retains
some important and irreducible characteristics of a complex
SES. These micro-configurations (motifs) are constructed
following the general assumption that any non-trivial SES
must consist of multiple actors and multiple natural
resources that all are interconnected in different ways.
From a bottom-up perspective, a minimal set of social and
ecological entities representing any non-trivial SES would
consist of two social actors and two
 ecological resources; i.e. a four-node representation of a
social-ecological network. Such a set of two plus two social
and ecological nodes can be interconnected in a finite
number of ways, and each specific pattern of interconnecting
links among the four nodes correspond to a specific SES
motif. We further characterize each motif, based on its
pattern of links, using four key variables: social
connectivity, ecological connectivity, substitutability, and
competition/exclusion. Based on these variables and their
interaction, and by drawing from insights from SES research,
we then describe each motif in terms of its main challenges
and opportunities for natural resource governance.  Using
this approach, it is possible to decompose any larger SES
represented as a social-ecological network into these basic
building blocks. A statistical analysis can then be applied
to investigate if and to what extent the different motifs
appear in the larger SES. This exercise can potentially
 inform on the main challenges and opportunities that
prevail in the larger SES, and in using a multi-case study
approach possible interaction effects among the different
motifs can be investigated. We illustrate this using a case
study from Madagascar. We finally show one way to further
elaborate into the characterization of the motifs using
controlled experiments in lab.
Id: 268
Room: FD5
Starting date:
08-Apr-2011   14:10
Duration: 30'
Presenters: Dr. BODIN, Örjan

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