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Spatially Explicit Ontology for the Institutional Analysis of Social-Ecological Systems

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Evans, Tom; Cox, Michael; López, Maria Claudia
Conference: Workshop on the Workshop 4
Location: Indiana University Bloomington
Conf. Date: June 3-6, 2009
Date: 2009
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1485
Sector: Social Organization
General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): spatial analysis
social behavior
human ecology
resource management
institutional analysis
Abstract: "Dynamics within complex social-ecological systems (SES) are the product of a diverse array of socio-economic and biophysical processes. The spatial structure of these systems often influences the management of resources (e.g. forests, water, fish) including the institutional rules that are developed governing how these systems can be used. Prior work has developed frameworks to describe SESs to address what institutional contexts make SESs resilient or sustainable, but without articulating the spatial relationships inherent in these systems. The objective of this paper is to develop an ontology designed to describe the actors, resources and relationships within an SES, with an emphasis on the spatial relationships inherent in human environment interactions. This ontology can be used to explore what spatial structures contribute to the resilience or sustainability of SESs. Many elements of SESs have explicitly spatial characteristics that in part affect the dynamics within those systems such as the proximity of actors to a resource, or the size of land holdings. The ontology presented here emphasizes the actors and resources in a system as well as the spatial characteristics and relationships that relate to the institutional factors affecting system dynamics. A series of three distinct case studies are used to demonstrate how this ontological framework can be applied to specific SESs. While the presentation here focuses on community level dynamics, the general framework presented here is broadly applicable to a wider array of analytical scales from local to regional level dynamics."

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