Monday 5
Water, food and social-ecological resilience
Sylvestre Delmotte, Christo Fabricius
› 11:05 - 18:00 (6h55)
› PNR Camargue
Towards context sensitive theory: Applying a theoretical model of norm-driven cooperation to irrigation in Bali
Nanda Wijermans  1@  , Maja Schlüter  2@  
1 : Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University  (SRC)  -  Website
Stockholm Resilience Centre Stockholm University Kräftriket 2B, SE-114 19 Stockholm -  Suède
2 : Stockholm Resilience Centre
Stockholm -  Suède

SES studies typically focus on real world problems with a complex systems lens. They are, however, often restricted to either abstract models or rich descriptive case studies. There is a need to generate understanding beyond the level of an individual case study or the conceptual level of an abstract model to increase our problem solving capacity for real world phenomena. This understanding needs to take relevant contextual factors into account while being as general as possible, i.e. context sensitive theory. In the SES-LINK project we aim to develop context sensitive theory, e.g., typology of actor-resource constellations, typical mechanisms etc. By means of different modelling techniques (e.g., agent-based modelling, generalised modelling) as well as exploring different SES cases on various scales (e.g. traps in agricultural landscapes, common-pool resource dilemmas in irrigation and fisheries, regime shifts in marine systems).

This paper focuses on applying agent-based modelling (ABM) to better link theory and real world problem situations in complex SES. This approach requires 1) including context, without losing the ability to systematically explore the SES and 2) on producing models as simple as possible and identify model components and processes that relate the generic features of the system/mechanism at hand. Our approach is guided by both theory and empirics. Theory informs the mechanisms, while empirics provide the necessary contextual details. ABM is a suitable approach to explore complexity, in between theory and context. We develop an ABM of Bali irrigation through contextualising a theoretical model of norm-driven cooperation[i] to the case of rice paddy farmers in Bali that cooperate in their water use to grow rice and avoid pests.

This case of successful resource management has been intensively studied and generated much social and ecological data[ii] . However, performance differences between communities and factors affecting their adaptability to change are still unresolved. Speculation is that the ability to engage in collective action is a major factor [iii]. The combination of available empirical knowledge and an open question of relevance beyond the individual case make for a relevant ABM case study.

The agent-based model of Bali irrigation aims to explain the differences in the ability of rice paddy farmers to collectively adapt and manage their resources through cooperation. The model allows for exploring social and ecological factors affecting self-organisation within and between rice paddy farmer communities. During our talk we will demonstrate this model and our steps to context sensitive understanding.


[i] Schlüter, M., Tavoni, A., & Levin, S. (n.d.). Robustness of cooperation in a commons dilemma to uncertain resource flows.

Tavoni, A., Schlüter, M., & Levin, S. (2011). The survival of the conformist Social pressure and renewable resource management. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 1–10. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2011.07.003

[ii] Lansing, J. S. (2006). Perfect Order recognizing complexity in Bali (4 ed.). Princeton university press.

[iii] Lansing, J. S., Cheong, S. A., Chew, L. Y., Cox, M. P., Ho, M.-H. R., & Wiguna, W. A. A. (n.d.). Alternate stable states in a social-ecological system.


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