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Advancing the Diagnostic Analysis of Environmental Problems

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Cox, Michael
Journal: International Journal of the Commons
Volume: 5
Page(s): 346-363
Date: 2011
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/7554
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): causal theory
social-ecological systems
Abstract: "Social-ecological systems exhibit patterns across multiple levels along spatial, temporal, and functional scales. The outcomes that are produced in these systems result from complex, non-additive interactions between different types of social and biophysical components, some of which are common to many systems, and some of which are relatively unique to a particular system. These properties, along with the mostly non-experimental nature of the analysis, make it difficult to construct theories regarding the sustainability of social-ecological systems. This paper builds on previous work that has initiated a diagnostic approach to the analysis of these systems. The process of diagnosis involves asking a series of questions of a system at increasing levels of specificity based on the answers to previous questions. The answer to each question further unpacks the complexity of a system, allowing an analyst to explore patterns of interactions that produce outcomes. An important feature of this approach is the use of multilevel analysis. This paper explores this concept and introduces another multilevel causation to further develop the diagnostic approach. It demonstrates that these concepts can be used to analyze a diversity of environmental problems."

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