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Role of relational social capital in transforming conservation inequalities and conflicts to sustainable solutions in developing countries

Vincent R. Nyirenda and Chansa Chomba

International Journal of Sustainable Development, 2015, vol. 18, issue 3, 229-246

Abstract: Inequalities in socio-economic systems in protected areas accentuate conflicts and loss of biodiversity. In this article, we discursively considered the role and importance of local relational social capital in transforming conservation conflicts to sustainable solutions in developing countries and the Luangwa Valley in Zambia in particular. The Luangwa Valley experiences numerous overlapping conservation conflicts and may be presented as a case study for exploring social change processes. Focus group discussions were employed in conflict definition, stakeholder analysis, conflict mapping and strategy formulations. Findings revealed that socio-economic differences, inequalities and tensions were associated with weak governance systems which were unable to withstand social dynamics in the community, exacerbated by asymmetrical social relationships. It was posited that relational social capital, particularly features of integrative social networks based on modulated power dynamics, should be strengthened. We suggested that future directions to fostering transformative approaches in dealing with proximate and underlying causes of conservation conflicts be focused on innovative consensual mechanisms that sustainably bridge differences between disputants.

Keywords: collective identity; common pool resources; competing claims; integrative bargaining; relational capital; social capital; conservation inequalities; sustainable development; sustainability; developing countries; socio-economic systems; protected areas; biodiversity; Zambia; social change; focus groups; conflict definition; stakeholder analysis; conflict mapping; strategy formulation; weak governance; social dynamics; asymmetrical social relationships; social networks; power dynamics. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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