From nouns to verbs: How process ontologies enhance our understanding of social‐ecological systems understood as complex adaptive systems

Summary

Research on social‐ecological systems (SES) has highlighted their complex and adaptive character and pointed to the importance of recognizing their intertwined nature. Yet, we often base our analysis and governance of SES on static and independent objects, such as actors and resources which are not well suited to address complexity and intertwinedness. This bias, which is largely implicit, has its roots in substance ontologies that have influenced most of contemporary science.

This paper argues that it is useful to critically reflect on this ontological grounding and develop SES research from a process ontological perspective.

Key insights are that process ontological concepts such as process, event and possibility space are able to overcome the dichotomy between the social and the ecological and allow for a conceptualization of continuous change (dynamism) that enhances our understanding of SES as truly intertwined and complex systems.

Information

Theme affiliation: Interacting complexities
Publication info: Hertz, T., Garcia, M.,M., Schlüter, M. 2020. From nouns to verbs: How process ontologies enhance our understanding of social‐ecological systems understood as complex adaptive systems. People and Nature, https://doi.org/10.1002/pan3.10079

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