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Ecosystem services, social interdependencies, and collective action: a conceptual framework

Cecile Barnaud , Esteve Corbera , Roldan Muradian , Nicolas Salliou , Clélia Sirami , Aude Vialatte , Jean-Philippe Choisis , Nicolas Dendoncker , Raphael Mathevet , Clémence Moreau , Victoria Reyes-García , Martí Boada , Marc Deconchat , Catherine Cibien , Stephan Garnier , Roser Maneja and Martine Antona, Ecology and Society 23(1):15, 2018

Abstract :

The governance of ecosystem services (ES) has been predominantly thought of in terms of market or state-based instruments. Comparatively, collective action mechanisms have rarely been considered. This paper addresses this gap by proposing a conceptual framework that brings together ES, social interdependencies, and collective action thinking. We use an ES conceptual lens to highlight social interdependencies among people so as to reflect on existing or potential collective actions among them. This framework can also contribute to increasing people’s awareness of their mutual interdependencies and thereby fostering, framing, or enriching collective action, in ways that take into account the diversity and complexity of ecological processes underlying human activities. Our approach can contribute in particular to agroecological transitions that require landscape level innovations and coordination mechanisms among land users and managers. The framework distinguishes three types of social interdependencies: (i) between ES beneficiaries and ES providers, (ii) among beneficiaries, and (iii) among providers. These social interdependencies are in turn analyzed according to four main dimensions that are critical for collective action: (i) cognitive framing of interdependencies, (ii) levels of organization, (iii) formal and informal institutions, and (iv) power relations. Finally, we propose a strategy to turn this framework into action in contexts of participatory action research, a strategy grounded on a number of methodological principles and tools that convey complexity and increase people’s awareness of interdependencies in agrarian social-ecological systems

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