Table 1. The adaptive cycle states and transition: social agency and structural qualities

Adaptive cycle phase Agency of social capital
(action and behavior)
Social structure
(discourse and institutions)
Institutionalized Agency reinforces and is aligned to dominant social structures and institutions. Alternative behavior is marginalized or excluded. Cohesive structure legitimates prevalent social behavior. Alternative discourses and associated institutions are marginalized or excluded.
Transition Likelihood of transition to a new state is influenced by cultural norms determining the limits of risk and loss tolerance and denial, institutional resistance to change, and capacity to cope with risk and loss.
Scattered Diffuse and diverse, social capital and behavior can break away from normalized routines and positions. A space for alternatives to emerge or be formed Established institutions and discourse seen to have failed in providing security or explaining risk. While these structures are still in place they are no longer reinforced by social agency initiating a crisis in structural reproduction
Transition New constellations of values emerge and compete for discursive dominance.
Mobilized Social capital hardens around discrete value positions and specific coalitions of interest emerge. Contradictory and supportive discourses and institutions coexist in overlapping emergent regimes.
Transition Historical and political contexts shape the speed of movement from a focus on the building of internal cohesion for diverse social groups and their associated institutions and discourses to mobilization and competition between competing values and behavior.
Polarized Competition between alternative social groups is overt. New hierarchies or non-hierarchies arise. Fewer, but more forcefully argued differences
Transition Negotiation or imposition of a new risk social contract