Participation for Conservation: The Role of Social Capital in Multi-level Governance of Small-scale Fisheries

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Nenadovic, Mateja


Basurto, Xavier

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The need for effective multi-level governance arrangements is becoming increasingly apparent because of the high functional interdependencies between biophysical and socioeconomic factors in the realm of natural resource governance. Such arrangements provide a basis for the exchange, discussion, and deliberation of information, knowledge, and data across diverse user groups and entities. Multi-level governance is operationalized by using a microinstitutional analysis that links decision-making arenas across three distinct levels: operational, collective-choice, and constitutional. Within this context, I argue that the effectiveness and success of actors' participatory processes across these three levels depend on the amount of social capital among actors within the governance system. I assessed the concept of social capital using two different models: (1) a structural approach focused on resources embedded within an individual's network, and (2) a combined structural-cultural approach that incorporates various aspects of group membership with relations of trust, rules, and norms. To explore the effects of social capital on participatory processes related to the implementation and management of natural resources, I analyzed different small-scale fisheries governance regimes from the Gulf of California, Mexico. I collected data using surveys (n=371), interviews (n=82), and participant observation techniques conducted among the residents of four small-scale fishing communities that live adjacent to marine protected areas along the Baja California, Mexico, peninsula. Data analysis included both quantitative (logit regression model), and qualitative (narrative analysis) approaches. Overall, my results suggest that both social capital models reveal the multidimensional nature of social capital where none of its individual types form a consistent and statistically significant relationship with the six outcomes that I measured. However, these types are related in different ways to fishers engagement in participatory processess across the three levels. The extent of fishers' engagement in participatory processess across different levels was not high. Qualitative analysis revealed that participatory processes related to fisheries conservation and management, although present do not reach their full potential and are stymied by a historical context and a lack of general participatory culture.





Nenadovic, Mateja (2015). Participation for Conservation: The Role of Social Capital in Multi-level Governance of Small-scale Fisheries. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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