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What You Know is Who You Know? Communication Patterns Among Resource Users as a Prerequisite for Co-management

Beatrice Crona, Dept. of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University
Örjan Bodin, Dept. of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University


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The social networks is one factor determining the flow of information within communities and as such may be important in determining successful implementation of community based management. We mapped the social network used for communication of knowledge and information related to natural resource extraction among villagers in a coastal seascape in Kenya. We further identified subgroups and examined their interrelations while measuring to what extent personal attributes such as occupation can explain observed group structure. Finally, we compared the local ecological knowledge held by villagers of different occupations with the structure of the communication network to map how well this structure can explain distribution of ecological knowledge among them. Results show that communication occurs primarily between fishermen who use the same gear type, which may inhibit exchange of ecological knowledge within the community. This may partly explain why the community has been unsuccessful in regulating resource extraction, especially since potentially influential groups of nonfishermen have a limited communication with the various fisher groups. Analysis of network structure also shows that groups most central, and hence potentially most influential, are dominated in numbers by migrant deep sea fishermen, hypothetically less motivated to initiate collective action for resource management. Hence, we conclude that a lack of collective action to remedy an unsustainable situation may be attributed to various different but distinct aspects of the specific structure of the social network.

Key words

co-management; communication patterns; East Africa; ecological knowledge; fisheries; fishing gear; social networks.

Copyright © 2006 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087