‘Bunkering Down’: How One Community is Tightening Social-ecological Network Structures in the Face of Global Change

Accepted for publication in the journal People and Nature, April 2022

46 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2022

See all articles by Michele Barnes

Michele Barnes

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University

Lorien Jasny

University of Exeter - College of Social Sciences and International Studies

Andrew Bauman

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jon Ben

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ramiro Berardo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Örjan Bodin

Stockholm University - Stockholm Resilience Center

Joshua Cinner

affiliation not provided to SSRN

David Feary

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Angela Guerrero

University of Queensland

Fraser A Januchowski-Hartley

affiliation not provided to SSRN

John Tagai Kuange

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jacqueline D Lau

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Peng Wang

Centre for Transformative Innovation, Swinburne University of Technology

Jessica Zamborain-Mason

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: April 22, 2022

Abstract

1. Complex networks of relationships among and between people and nature (social-ecological networks) play an important role in sustainability; yet we have limited empirical understanding of their temporal dynamics.
2. We empirically examine the evolution of a social-ecological network in a common-pool resource system faced with escalating social and environmental change over the past two decades.
3. We first draw on quantitative and qualitative data collected between 2002–2018 in a Papua New Guinean reef fishing community to provide contextual evidence regarding the extent of social and environmental change being experienced. We then develop a temporal multilevel exponential random graph model using complete social-ecological network data, collected in 2016 and 2018, to test key hypotheses regarding how fishing households have adapted their social ties in this context of change given their relationships with reef resources (i.e., social-ecological ties). Specifically, we hypothesized that households will increasingly form tight-knit, bonding social and social-ecological network structures (H1 and H3, respectively) with similar others (H2), and that they will seek out resourceful actors with specialized knowledge that can promote learning and spur innovation (H4).
4. Our results depict a community that is largely ‘bunkering down’ and looking inward in response to mounting risk to resource-dependent livelihoods and a breakdown in the collaborative processes that traditionally sustained them. Community members are increasingly choosing to interact with others more like themselves (H2), with friends of friends (H1), and with those connected to interdependent ecological resources (H3) – in other words, they are showing a strong, increasing preference for forming bonding social-ecological network structures and interacting with like-minded, similar others. We did not find strong support for H4.
5. Bonding network structures may decrease the risk associated with unmonitored behaviour and help to build trust, thereby increasing the probability of sustaining cooperation over time. Yet increasing homophily and bonding ties can stifle innovation, reducing the ability to adapt to changing conditions. It can also lead to clustering, creating fault lines in the network which can negatively impact the community’s ability to mobilize and agree on/enforce social norms, which are key for managing common resources.

Keywords: social network, adaptation, transformation, temporal exponential random graph model, social capital, coastal communities

JEL Classification: Q01, Z13, Q54

Suggested Citation

Barnes, Michele and Jasny, Lorien and Bauman, Andrew and Ben, Jon and Berardo, Ramiro and Bodin, Örjan and Cinner, Joshua and Feary, David and Guerrero, Angela and Januchowski-Hartley, Fraser A and Kuange, John Tagai and Lau, Jacqueline D and Wang, Peng and Zamborain-Mason, Jessica, ‘Bunkering Down’: How One Community is Tightening Social-ecological Network Structures in the Face of Global Change (April 22, 2022). Accepted for publication in the journal People and Nature, April 2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4090065

Michele Barnes (Contact Author)

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University ( email )

Townsville, Queensland 4811
Australia

Lorien Jasny

University of Exeter - College of Social Sciences and International Studies ( email )

University of Exeter
Exeter, Devon EX4 4RJ
United Kingdom

Andrew Bauman

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jon Ben

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ramiro Berardo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Örjan Bodin

Stockholm University - Stockholm Resilience Center ( email )

Kräftriket 2B
Stockholm, SE-114 19
Sweden

Joshua Cinner

affiliation not provided to SSRN

David Feary

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Angela Guerrero

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Fraser A Januchowski-Hartley

affiliation not provided to SSRN

John Tagai Kuange

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jacqueline D Lau

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Peng Wang

Centre for Transformative Innovation, Swinburne University of Technology ( email )

Hawthorn, VIC
Australia

Jessica Zamborain-Mason

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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