Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Examining limits and barriers to climate change adaptation in an Indigenous reindeer herding community
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political Science. (Arcum)
2013 (English)In: Climate and Development, ISSN 1756-5529, E-ISSN 1756-5537, Vol. 5, no 4, 328-339 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Based on recognized gaps in adaptation research the article begins by identifying the need to empirically investigate the‘governance of adaptation’. Drawing on Kooiman’s interactive governance framework, the study examines through collaborative methodology how adaptation agency and the space for adaptation is constructed and restricted in the case ofan Indigenous reindeer herding community in Sweden. Findings demonstrate that climate change and variability iscurrently a matter of concern. The greatest problem, however, is the diminishing space for adaptation due to accumulated pressure of predation and competing land-uses in combination with herders’ lack of direct and indirect power to influence the actors and institutional factors currently limiting adaptation options. This study carries relevance not only for reindeer herding communities in Sweden, but also for the general adaptation literature in demonstrating that limits and barriers to adaptation can be essentially political; requiring the making of hard choices and hence active governmental intervention.It also shows that marginalized groups, even in contexts where adaptive capacity is considered high, are likely to remain highly vulnerable with restricted adaptation opportunities unless deliberate structural and institutional transformation are initiated.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2013. Vol. 5, no 4, 328-339 p.
Keyword [en]
climate change; adaptation; governance; reindeer herding; reindeer husbandry; Indigenous; Sami; participation
National Category
Political Science Climate Research
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-80539DOI: 10.1080/17565529.2013.831338OAI: diva2:650281
Adaptations of natural resource-based communities to climatic and societal changes - Sami reindeer herding in the past, present and future
Available from: 2013-09-20 Created: 2013-09-20 Last updated: 2016-05-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Challenging Adaptability: Analysing the Governance of Reindeer Husbandry in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Challenging Adaptability: Analysing the Governance of Reindeer Husbandry in Sweden
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

We live in a complex, interconnected and constantly changing world. Human driven global climate change is now a local reality that reinforces the inherent need for adaptability in human systems. Adaptability, the capacity to adapt to disturbance and change and navigate system transformation, can be understood as a function of socio-political interactions. The capacity of governing systems to deal with novel challenges through novel forms of interaction is a key issue in the governance literature, but which is only beginning to be explored. We therefore know little of how global change will impact the local level and how institutions and governing systems will respond.

The need for adaptability is likely to be more pronounced for tightly coupled human-environmental systems. Indigenous and natural resource dependent communities in general, and in the Northern hemisphere in particular, are among the most exposed to ongoing and projected climate change. In Sweden, reindeer husbandry is an Indigenous Sami livelihood and extensive land-use practice highly exposed to weather conditions and increasing competition over land and resources. Whereas herders struggle to deal with the challenges that now confront them, the practice is also known as resilient and sustainable, having withstood large-scale social, ecological and economic change before.

The aim with this thesis is to explore adaptability from a governancetheoretical perspective in the case of Sami reindeer husbandry in Sweden. The thesis thereby contributes to the emerging literatures on governance and adaptability and addresses empirically identified needs.

Theoretically, the thesis draws on Kooiman’s interactive governance framework, which offers a multidimensional approach to governance analysis where structural aspects are addressed through modes (self-, coand hierarchical governing) and intentional aspects through governing elements (images, instruments and action). While conceptually encompassing, the framework has rarely been employed in empirical analyses. In advancing an operationalisation of the framework based on governing orders (operational, institutional and meta-order), the thesis thereby makes a theoretical contribution.

Designed as a qualitative case study, the thesis explores how reindeer husbandry is governed and how governing has changed over time (institutional and meta-order); how the governing system restricts or facilitates adaptation and transformation (operational order); and how a governance-theoretical perspective can contribute to our understanding of adaptability. Methods include document analysis, focus groups, interviews and participatory observation. Studies focussing the operational order have been conducted in collaboration with Vilhelmina North reindeer herding community in Västerbotten county, Sweden.

The results show that only marginal change has occurred over time and state actors still dominate governing interactions. The governing system is riddled with inconsistencies among governing elements and particularly problematic is the lack of coherence between different meta-order images and between different actors. This gives rise to divergent and conflicting views as to ‘what’ the system of reindeer husbandry is and explains some of the observed governing inaction and limited problem-solving capacity of the governing system. Herders are currently highly restricted in their opportunities for adaptation and transformation and the governing system therefore acts restricting rather than facilitating on adaptability. By adopting a governance-theoretical approach, adaptability as a system quality has been decomposed and challenged and the important role of governing images and power in determining adaptability has been highlighted. It has called attention to questions such as who is forced to adapt, how images and governing interactions are constructed, and how different socio-political actors can exercise influence over the governing system and interactions taking place therein.

The thesis calls for more critical and empirical research on adaptability and argues that future studies need to situate and balance adaptability against other fundamental values and rights. In the case of reindeer husbandry, efforts are needed to create a better internal fit between governing elements as well as between involved socio-political actors. This could enable more equal governing interactions with other land-users and thereby contribute to mitigating conflicts as well as increasing adaptability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2014. 89 p.
Statsvetenskapliga institutionens skriftserie, ISSN 0349-0831 ; 2014:1
adaptability, adaptation, climate change, governance, Indigenous, interactive governance, reindeer herding, reindeer husbandry, Sami, transformation
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-87976 (URN)978-91-7601-045-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-05-16, Samhällsvetarhuset, Lindellhallen, Hörsal B, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 13:15 (English)
Available from: 2014-04-25 Created: 2014-04-16 Last updated: 2014-05-06Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Löf, Annette
By organisation
Department of Political Science
In the same journal
Climate and Development
Political ScienceClimate Research

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 264 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link