Environmental Entitlements: A Framework for Understanding the Institutional Dynamics of Environmental Change

"While there is now widespread consensus within international development circles that 'sustainable development' should be based on local-level solutions derived from community initiatives, there is also a growing perception that the practical implementation of what is termed 'community-based sustainable development' often falls short of expectations. This overview paper seeks to complement and add to this emerging critique, with a particular focus on the implications of intra-community dynamics and ecological heterogeneity. It offers a conceptual framework that highlights the central role of institutions in mediating the relationships between environment and society, where institutions are understood as regularised patterns of behaviour between individuals and groups in society. This framework is grounded in an extended form of entitlements analysis used to explore the ways differently positioned social actors command environmental goods and services that are instrumental to their wellbeing. Further insights are drawn from areas of scholarship including analyses of social difference and social agency; 'new', dynamic ecology; new institutional economics; structuration theory; and landscape history. The theoretical argument is illustrated with reference to recent empirical research in India, South Africa and Ghana."
environmental change, institutional change