Reconciling contradictory narratives of landscape change using the adaptive cycle: A case study from southeastern Australia

Andrea Rawluk, Allan Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
149 Downloads (Pure)


This paper addresses the methodological challenge of exposing and reconciling contradictory narratives of change in a social-ecological system (SES). Our research occurred in the Ovens Valley in southeastern Australia. Other studies have used the adaptive cycle to interpret change, but those efforts have been based on researcher-derived interpretations. We drew on the Factors Actors Sectors framework as a structure for coding qualitative interview data provided by key informants. Our analysis suggested that interpretations of SES change fell into three groups: farmers, employees of government and local organizations, and local politicians. Those narratives were then overlaid on the adaptive cycle as a way of exposing and interpreting the narratives. To farmers, the SES was based on agriculture and approaching collapse, and intervention was required to prevent a collapse. Employees of government and localorganizations thought the SES had already collapsed, and local people were struggling to identify a prosperous new trajectory. The local politicians also thought the system had collapsed but unlike the other stakeholders, considered the SES as having already reorganized. We then drew on a range of secondary data to reconcile those contradictory narratives and form a consolidated interpretation of landscape change. Our synthesis of the primary and secondary data suggested that the SES had collapsed and reorganized as a multifunctional landscape. We suggest our approach may be useful to others attempting to interpret landscape change using a resilience framework. The case study also illustrates the importance of exploring multiple perspectives of landscape change as a way of exposing the role of power as a force shaping discourse and, therefore, policy and planning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Reconciling contradictory narratives of landscape change using the adaptive cycle: A case study from southeastern Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this