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Social Learning and Natural Resource Management: The Emergence of Three Research Perspectives

Romina Rodela, Wageningen University and Research Centre

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04554-160430

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Abstract

A review is presented of research contributions that use social learning in research on natural resource management. The review is based on an extensive survey of peer-reviewed journal articles appraised against the following selected analytical items: (1) characterizing features, (2) level of analysis, and (3) operational measures. Together, these allowed for an assessment of underlying assumptions and emerging themes. The findings suggest that, within natural resource management literature, three research approaches to social learning have been developed, each with its own assumptions about the learning process, learning outcomes, and operational practices. Hence, we find that a group of publications showed an interest for participants' learning experiences and focused on the type of outcomes that arise from their attendance in participatory workshops and similar activities. Also, findings indicate that a second group of publications showing an interest for learning in other types of settings, such as groups, networks, and associations, have framed social learning as a process that results in a change in resource management practices, or in how things are done. On the other hand, a third group of publications showed an interest in social-ecological systems emphasizing learning as an emergent property.

Key words

bibliography; natural resource management; social learning; sustainability; systematic review
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087