Tag Archives: Örjan Bodin

Trend Spotting: Network Analysis is Growing in Social-Ecological Studies

The network perspective and its accompanying style of analysis – social network analysis (SNA), and more generally network analysis – is a growing trend within the field of social-ecological studies and resilience research.

At the recent conference Resilience 2011, 11-16 March in Tempe, Arizona, USA, my quick overview after having been there noted a growing number of papers that were based on network analysis, or a network perspective, especially when compared with the number of network papers at the Resilience 2008 conference in Stockholm. Although a proper analysis needs to be made, it seems clear that the overall number of presentations were many more in 2011, but likely also the ratio of presentations in comparison with the total, and the scope of problems addressed. A new trend this time, although I did a presentation at the SUNBELT conference in Italy last year on the subject, was the focus and special session on ‘social-ecological network analysis’ (SENA).

Papers, books, and special sessions

To this trend we can add the growing number of published papers, chapters and books and special sessions at international conferences.

To mention a few key compilations of publications since 2008, there is the special issue in Ecology & Society from 2010 edited by Beatrice Crona and Klaus Hubacek and an upcoming book edited by Örjan Bodin and Christina Prell entitled “Social Networks and Natural Resource Management: Uncovering the Social Fabric of Environmental Governance” (the book can be pre-ordered). To the former I contributed with the paper “Scale-Crossing Brokers and Network Governance” (Ernstson et al. 2010), and to the latter with the chapter “Transformative Collective Action” being my take on studying collective action for transformation (in contrast to Ostrom’s theory for more stable arrangements)(read more here: Ernstson 2011; I also co-authored two chapters).* (Also see Graeme Cumming’s book “Spatial Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems“, and Christina Prell’s introductory book on SNA.)

To these publications there is also a growing number of special sessions that has been organized at conferences on how to use SNA in ecosystem governance studies, including at least: IHDP in Bonn 2009, SUNBELT 2010 in Trento, and now Resilience 2011 in Phoenix/Tempe. As evidence of a growing epistemic community, we can also add our e-group NASEBERRY, and the courses given during these last couple of years (e.g. this one).

Resilience Research & Networks: Workshop in Vienna 26 May With Top Scholars

What is penciled out above is of course just a quick “trend spotting” from my own constrained position in this emerging community. A more comprehensive overview is on the calendar. However, to somewhat broaden the horizon in this blog post, I picked up the following interesting high-profile workshop on “Resilience Research & Networks” organized by Dr. Harald Katzmair that will be held in Vienna on May 26th this year. As yet another example of an event that brings network analysis, resilience and social-ecological studies together, he writes in the announcement:

Resilience research is an ascendant paradigm aiming to explore the structural features of adaptive and robust ecosystems, societies, enterprises, and economies.  Network theory provides a robust language to better describe and understand those features. The workshop will bring together the fields of resilience research & network theory and will demonstrate their value for adaptive management and strategy development in politics, economy, environment, and society.

The talks of the speakers are focused around three guiding questions:

What is the evidence of resilience within a specific system?

What are the threats for resiliency in a specific system?

What role do networks play in the design of decision making structures?

I conclude my trend spotting with this seemingly very interesting workshop.

*Both the book and special issue serves as a very good introduction to network analysis in social-ecological studies, alongside other reading lists.

Livelihood landscapes – disentangling occupational diversity for natural resource management

A special contribution from Josh Cinner, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (see previous posts on his work here and here) and Örjan Bodin from the Stockholm Resilience Centre on their recent paper, Livelihood diversification in tropical coastal communities: a network-based approach to analyzing ‘livelihood landscapes’, which appeared in the August 11, 2010 issue of PLoS ONE, and is available free online.  They write:

In many developing countries, an individual household will often engage in a range of economic sectors, such as fishing, farming, and tourism. These diverse ‘livelihood portfolios’ are thought to help to spread risk and make households more resilient to shocks in a particular sector. Whether and how local people engage in multiple occupations has important implications for how people use and manage natural resources and is of particular relevance to people involved in managing natural resources. But for scientists, donors, and policy makers, unraveling the complexity of livelihoods in developing countries has been extremely challenging.

In our recent paper in PLoS ONE, we developed a novel method for exploring complex household livelihood portfolios.  We used a network-based approach to examine how the role of natural resource-based occupations changes along spectra of socioeconomic development and population density in 27 communities across 5 western Indian Ocean countries (see Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Kenyan livelihood landscape maps at various scales of social organization: a) Shela, Kenya; b) an aggregation of peri-urban sites in Kenya; c) an aggregation of rural sites in Kenya; d) all sites in Kenya.

In Figure 1 the links between occupations are indicated by arrows. The size of a node indicates the relative involvement in that occupational sector (larger node means more people are involved). The direction of the arrows indicates the priority of ranking. Thus an arrow into an occupation indicates that the occupation was ranked lower than the occupation the arrow came from. The thickness of the arrows corresponds to the proportion of households being engaged in the, by themselves, higher ranked occupation that are also engaged in the lower ranked occupation. The proportion of the node that is shaded represents the proportion of people that ranked that occupation as a primary occupation.

We found:

  • an increase in household-level specialization with development for most (but not all) occupational sectors, including fishing and farming, but that at the community-level, economies remained diversified.
  • We also found that households in less developed communities often share a common occupation, whereas that patterns is less pronounced in more developed communities. This may have important implications for how people both perceive and solve conflicts over natural resources.

Finally, our network-based approach to exploring livelihood portfolios can be utilized for many more types of analyses conducted at varying scales, ranging from small villages to states and regions.

NASEBERRY and 2-mode network analysis of a dynamic co-management process

A network approach to understand co-management, governance and complex social-ecological systems is becoming part of the toolbox used by researchers in our field, now recently in an article by Marín and Berkes (see below). A bunch of us is trying to form a community of researchers to exchange ideas on how to use network analysis in social-ecological studies and to join our NASEBERRY group, you can mail me (Henrik Ernstson, henrik(at)ecology.su.se).

Andrés Marín and Fikret Berkes uses a 2-mode social network approach in their recent article entitled “Network approach for understanding small-scale fisheries governance“. They make the argument that many studies up until now have focussed on collaborative ties, which might miss how conflicts could drive the structuration of social networks:

[S]tudying only collaborative (or facilitating) relationships may show an incomplete representation of co-management. In the Chilean case, co-management appeared as a dynamic equilibrium between opposing forces: facilitation or collaboration and hindrance or conflict. The existence of conflict and power disputes should not be seen as blocking the functioning of the system but as a driver of change and adaptation [1]

NASEBERRY – A community would be great to have

Within the field of social-ecological network studies, several other studies are on their way in both marine, terrestrial and urban ecosystems. Further, at the upcoming international conference on social network analysis (SUNBELT) there is a special session on network analysis and natural resource management (June 2010), and several of us are participating in a book project led by Örjan Bodin and Christina Prell to further develop this field.

It is clear that several reserach groups are forming at various universities in the world, and at all continents. We hope our NASEBERRY group could be a good forum for many others to exchange exciting ideas. The name originates from “Network Analysis in Social-Ecological Studies” but has further borrowed its name from a long-lived evergreen tree growing in the Caribbean. The group include scholars that strive to advance both social, ecological and social-ecological network analysis in social-ecological studies. If you would like to join, please contact me Henrik Ernstson (henrik(at)ecology.su.se).

Naseberry tree<br />

Stay cool. Stay networked. Stay in the (naseberry)tree!


PS. Marín A, Berkes F. (2010; in press) Network approach for understanding small-scale fisheries governance: The case of the Chilean coastal co-management. Marine Policy. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2010.01.007
[1] With reference to: Armitage et al 2007: Adaptive co-management. Univ Brit Col Press.