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Title: Pollution, interests and everyday life in Lake Titicaca : negotiating change and continuity in social-ecological systems
Author: Mancilla Garcia, Maria
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Environmental governance is a challenging topic in development contexts. On the one hand, the traditional development paradigm is based on economic growth through environmental exploitation; on the other, environmental degradation reduces vulnerable populations’ options for development. In the last thirty years numerous attempts to integrate environmental concerns in development policies have proved unsuccessful, raising questions as to whether the current governance system can address the challenge. The literature on environmental management has focused on identifying rules for successful governance, leaving little space to explore the complexities of the interactions between actors and their environments, wherein the reasons for sustained degradation might lie. The questions that this thesis asks are: How do diverse groups of actors rationalize and interact with degraded ecosystems? And what role does the governance system play in codifying these interactions? To answer these questions, the thesis engages in an institutional study of Lake Titicaca, between Peru and Bolivia. The lake has witnessed a degradation of its bay in the last thirty years, as a result of urban and mining development in the region. A complex web of organizations that go from the bi-national to the community level manages Lake Titicaca. The investigation of the questions asked is particularly relevant in the current context, as the countries to which the lake belongs put forward significantly different visions of the environment. By drawing on the strengths of social-ecological systems frameworks proposed by the two mains schools – the Resilience Alliance and Bloomington Workshop – and filling some of their deficiencies using insights from the sociological literatures on negotiation and justification, I hope to have created a composite framework with which to give an insightful account of the complexity and diversity at play in the field. The thesis adopts a broad range of qualitative methods (observation, interviews, document analysis) completed with descriptive statistics for budget analysis. The thesis argues that the actors’ approaches to the ecosystem are complex, diverse and constitutive of social-ecological systems wherein relationships are negotiated between actors, between actors and the ecosystem and ‘within’ actors as they hold competing visions and strategies. Some of the variables shaping these negotiations are crafted through the interaction between social and ecological elements, which also influence the actors’ understanding of the system. Others are determined by parameters crafted in the social sphere, and the ways in which social-ecological interactions fit with those. Policy interventions to improve the condition of Lake Titicaca need a more sophisticated understanding of these social-ecological systems.
Supervisor: Rival, Laura Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Public policy ; International studies ; Indigenous peoples ; Governance and ethics ; Public administration ; Development and Refugees (see also Sociology) ; Environmental change ; Environment ; Latin America ; social-ecological systems ; Bolivia ; Peru ; water ; pollution