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A critical review of the theory and application of social learning in participatory natural resource management processes


  • M. Muro
  • P. Jeffrey


Social learning is increasingly cited as an essential component of sustainable natural resource management and the promotion of desirable behavioural change. This paper attempts to contribute to the current debate about social learning and public participation by reviewing the many perspectives on social learning and associated claims and benefits. Based on this analysis the paper identifies conceptual and practical weaknesses of the concept of social learning and their implications for the design of participatory processes in natural resource management.

Suggested Citation

  • M. Muro & P. Jeffrey, 2008. "A critical review of the theory and application of social learning in participatory natural resource management processes," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(3), pages 325-344.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jenpmg:v:51:y:2008:i:3:p:325-344
    DOI: 10.1080/09640560801977190

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    Cited by:

    1. Subhajyoti Samaddar & Junho Choi & Bijay Misra & Hirokazu Tatano, 2015. "Insights on social learning and collaborative action plan development for disaster risk reduction: practicing Yonmenkaigi System Method (YSM) in flood-prone Mumbai," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 75(2), pages 1531-1554, January.
    2. repec:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:1:p:35-48 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Khadka, Chiranjeewee & Hujala, Teppo & Wolfslehner, Bernhard & Vacik, Harald, 2013. "Problem structuring in participatory forest planning," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 1-11.
    4. Rodela, Romina & Cundill, Georgina & Wals, Arjen E.J., 2012. "An analysis of the methodological underpinnings of social learning research in natural resource management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 16-26.
    5. Jakku, E. & Thorburn, P.J., 2010. "A conceptual framework for guiding the participatory development of agricultural decision support systems," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 103(9), pages 675-682, November.
    6. Ison, Ray & Blackmore, Chris & Iaquinto, Benjamin L., 2013. "Towards systemic and adaptive governance: Exploring the revealing and concealing aspects of contemporary social-learning metaphors," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 34-42.
    7. repec:spr:endesu:v:19:y:2017:i:5:d:10.1007_s10668-016-9825-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:7:p:1200-:d:103921 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Emma Jakku & Peter Thorburn, 2009. "A Conceptual Framework for Guiding the Participatory Development of Agricultural Decision Support Systems," Socio-Economics and the Environment in Discussion (SEED) Working Paper Series 2009-12, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.
    10. Kim Coleman & Cecilia Danks, 2016. "Service-learning: a tool to create social capital for collaborative natural resource management," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 6(3), pages 470-478, September.
    11. Ricart Casadevall, Sandra, 2016. "Improving the management of water multi-functionality through stakeholder involvement in decision-making processes," Utilities Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(PA), pages 71-81.
    12. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:8:p:1371-:d:106838 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. G. Raadgever & E. Mostert & N. Giesen, 2012. "Learning from Collaborative Research in Water Management Practice," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 26(11), pages 3251-3266, September.
    14. Kouévi, T.A. & van Mierlo, B. & Leeuwis, C., 2013. "Learning about fishery management: Evaluation of a contextualized responsive evaluation approach," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 1-11.
    15. Chapman, Sarah, 2014. "A framework for monitoring social process and outcomes in environmental programs," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 45-53.
    16. Espinosa-Romero, Maria J. & Rodriguez, Laura F. & Weaver, Amy Hudson & Villanueva-Aznar, Cristina & Torre, Jorge, 2014. "The changing role of NGOs in Mexican small-scale fisheries: From environmental conservation to multi-scale governance," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(PA), pages 290-299.
    17. Louis Lebel & Torsten Grothmann & Bernd Siebenhüner, 2010. "The role of social learning in adaptiveness: insights from water management," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 333-353, December.
    18. Silva Larson & Thomas G Measham & Liana J Williams, 2009. "Remotely Engaged? A Framework for Monitoring the Success of Stakeholder Engagement in Remote Regions," Socio-Economics and the Environment in Discussion (SEED) Working Paper Series 2009-11, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems.
    19. Emma Yuen & Samantha Jovicich & Benjamin Preston, 2013. "Climate change vulnerability assessments as catalysts for social learning: four case studies in south-eastern Australia," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 18(5), pages 567-590, June.


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