Call for Papers for Special Issue
‘Traps! Expanding Thinking on Persistent Maladaptive States
in Pursuit of Resilience’
We acknowledge that our societies are far from sustainability. The cascading crises – environmental, financial, political and social-‐ create a moment in history that scientists, policy makers and corporate actors either consider as windows of opportunity or as situations of entrapment. This on-‐going tension can be enlightened with the concept of “traps,” especially by unravelling how traps are understood, perceived and what sustains them. The debate on traps in social-‐ecological-‐technological systems will advance sustainability science by creating new meaning and deepening the thinking on what inhibits our societies from escaping unsustainability traps, by bringing interdisciplinary perspectives from social sciences into the sustainability debate with the concept of ‘stability and instability’ over the course of achieving sustainability and also by bridging two scholarships that address actively the sustainability debate: resilience approach and sustainability transitions approach.
In this special issue we revisit the conceptualization of poverty and rigidity traps (Carpenter and Brock 2008) by considering how representations of stability landscapes can affect spatial and temporal micro-‐ and macro-‐dynamics which shape the very landscapes that contain these traps. Transformations are radical changes of micro-‐ and/or macro-‐dynamics that reshape the possibilities to escape these traps by reshaping the basins of attraction and the landscape as a whole. Conceptualizing and then representing via heuristic models broader scale dynamics in the form of dynamic landscapes and smaller scale dynamics in the form of stability landscapes and basins of attraction raises new questions and new understanding of how the lenses with which we approach time and space dynamics impact the way SES develop and/or can be managed over time. In this thinking, institutions and how they operate in relation to micro-‐ and macro-‐dynamics resemble some archetypical behavioral patterns conceptualized as institutional traps.
Rigidity traps occur in social–ecological systems when institutions become highly connected, self-‐reinforcing, and inflexible (Gunderson and Holling 2002). Poverty traps (Azariadis and Stachurski 2005, Bowles, Durlauf et al. 2006, Carter and Barrett 2006, Barrett, Travis et al.
2011), with particular emphasis on non-‐monetary impoverishment traps, distinct from rigidity traps, represent a situation in which people are impoverished by circumstances beyond their immediate control (Bowles, Durlauf et al. 2006). Thresholds, or tipping points, indicate regime shifts in social-‐ecological systems and are related to “traps,” especially when we visualize traps in terms of multiple domains in stability landscape models (Herrfahrdt-‐Pähle and Pahl-‐Wostl
2012). Carpenter and Brock (2008) emphasize the changing nature of traps in their efforts to
model adaptive capacity. These scholars argue that traps represent persistent maladaptive states, and that the conditions that lead to rigidity or poverty arise in opposite phases of the
adaptive cycle. Rigidity can set in when connectivity and potential have increased, while adaptive capacity has atrophied. At the other end of the cycle, when connectivity or potential are low, impoverishment can result. We take this notion of impoverishment to include multiple capitals, in addition to monetary, and expand upon this notion herein.
This special issue will pick up where Carpenter and Brock, and more recently Boonstra and de Boer (2014) left off by expanding upon not only functional but also discursively constructed traps, and their relative panarchies or “nestedness” in social-‐ecological systems. Examples include traps in urban SES contexts brought about by adopting an ecosystem services perspective, traps brought about by societal discourses emphasizing anthropocentrism, as well as explaining which institutional mechanisms underline traps over time and across scales. The core aim of the special issue is therefore to expand and refine the concept of poverty traps, rigidity traps (Carpenter and Brock 2008), and perhaps theorize new kinds of traps and their implications for resilience scholarship, as well as to work towards developing a typology of traps, and relevant scalar implications, from a multidisciplinary team of scholars contributing to the special issue.
Our proposed special issue contributes to the journal’s efforts to probe interactions between global, social, and human systems, the complex mechanisms that lead to degradation of these systems, and concomitant risks to human well-‐being. The proposed “traps” special issue presents a unique, novel, and transdisciplinary effort to simultaneously understand phenomena and solve problems, uncertainty and application of the precautionary principle, the co-‐evolution of knowledge and recognition of problems, and trade-‐offs between global and local problem solving.
30 August 2014 Submission of Abstracts to Guest Editors (500 words excl. references)
15 September 2014 Communication about Accepted Abstracts
30 October 2014 Submission of Full Manuscripts to Guest Editors
30 November 2014 Communication of in-‐or-‐out Decision of Guest Editors to Authors
30 January 2015 Submission of Revised Full Manuscripts to Sustainability Science Journal April 2016 Publication of Special Issue ‘Traps”
Keith Tidball, PhD, Asst. Director Civic Ecology Lab
(Department of Natural Resources, Cornell University, USA) (e-‐mail: email@example.com)
Niki Frantzeskaki, PhD.
(Dutch Research Institute For Transitions, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands)