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The Driving Forces Behind Collective Action in a Community in the Lower Amazon (Santarem, state of Para, Brazil)

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Futemma, Celia; de Castro, Fábio; Silva-Forsberg, Maria Clara
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/984
Sector: Forestry
Social Organization
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: South America
Subject(s): IASC
village organization
collective action
forest management
Abstract: "Studies on local management of common-pool resources (CPRs) usually emphasize analysis at the community level. However, empirical data have shown that the fact of considering community as a homogenous social group overlooks important social dynamics among actors which may lead to different outcomes (Schlager and Blomquist 1998). The analysis of local and external factors which affect individual's incentives may uncover such heterogeneities within a community. Edwards and Steins (1998) argue that such contextual factors are crucial to reveal 'hidden' factors that may affect collective decisions. Factors such as governmental policy (at the regional level), and household structure and ecological features (at the local level) may affect the opportunities and constraints to use a given resource. "Perhaps the main difficulty in identifying the primary driving forces to join a collective action is because most studies of successful collective action have focused on groups who organized themselves at a time substantially prior to the fieldwork conducted by the researcher (Bromley et al. 1992; McCay and Acheson 1990; Netting 1973; Ostrom 1992a; Wade 1988). In this regard, the analysis of a collective action in formation may provide information which better reveals the driving forces behind individuals' decisions concerning natural resources. It may, for example, reveal if the reason of a collective action is conservation, or if it is embedded in a 'hidden' agenda that is not directly related to the managed system (Steins 1997). Likewise, it may explain why some individuals are more prone to participate than others (Gibson and Koontz 1997). "The study analyzes a collective action that recently took place in a traditional riparian community in the Lower Amazon. The settlement is located between the floodplain and upland ecosystems, but only one-third of the residents joined a common property of the floodplain area. This paper tries to answer two questions: 1) why have only one-third of the households initiated collective action in the floodplain forest? and 2) how is the collective action in the floodplain related to the upland ecosystem?"

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