Sense of place in social–ecological systems: from theory to empirics

Author(s): Masterson, V.A., Enqvist, J.P., Stedman, R.C., Tengö, M.
In: Sustainability Science May 2019, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 555–564
Year: 2019
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Stewardship
Full reference: Masterson, V.A., Enqvist, J.P., Stedman, R.C., Tengö, M. 2019. Sense of place in social–ecological systems: from theory to empirics. Sustainability Science May 2019, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 555–564

Summary

We live in a human-dominated world and the pace and scale of changes to the biosphere, from climate change to land-use change, are staggering. Accelerated socio-economic changes accompanying global change threaten the ecological life support systems on which we depend (Steffen et al. 2015) but also the character of the particular places which we care about (Adger et al. 2011). The rapid and novel challenges of the Anthropocene are also manifested, perceived, and responded to differently in particular places, mediated by biophysical as well as social and economic facets of the place itself (Wilbanks 2015).

What is the role of people’s relationships to place in recognizing and responding to these sustainability challenges? Sense of place has been shown to be a key factor in adaptation to ecosystem changes and transformations, as well as playing an important role in people’s motivation to act on behalf of local environments (Adger et al. 2013; Chapin and Knapp 2015; Masterson et al. 2017). The connections between people, place, and nature also help us to understand social motivations and identify and develop pathways towards sustainability (Brown 2015; Jones et al. 2016).

In this special feature, we mobilize theory and empirical findings on sense of place to shed light on the role of such relationships in the dynamics of social–ecological systems.

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