Article by DPDF 2008 Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Research Director Tom P. Evans and Daniel H. Cole, published in Journal of Natural Resources Policy Research:
The influence of social norms in social-ecological systems is often dramatic but also deceptively complex. Ostrom’s work elegantly leverages research from experimental economics and case studies of common-pool resource systems to demonstrate that many collective action dilemmas can be successfully resolved (Ostrom, 2000). This analysis was by no means suggested as a universal or generalizable foregone outcome as there are many cases of failures to overcome collective action problems. Furthermore, collective action problems only constitute a subset of social-ecological systems found globally. Thus, in order to understand the interplay between social norms and collective action in social-ecological systems it is necessary to contextualize these dynamics within a broader framework that encompasses a broad area of components in Social-Ecological Systems (SESs). Ostrom’s later work did just this, with publications that were clearly inspired by her earlier foundational work. In particular, what has become known as the ‘Social-Ecological Systems Framework‘ (Ostrom, 2009) outlines numberous elements of social-ecological systems that received relatively little attention in the 2000 manuscript. And as was noted by Ostrom in 2000, ’empirical and theoretical work in the future needs to ask how a large array of contextual variables affects the processes of teaching and evoking social norms’ (p. 154). Here we explore selected arenas that are of particular interest to the evolution of SESs while at the same time attempting to synthesize some of the work that followed after Ostrom’s 2000 publication.