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Building ties: social capital network analysis of a forest community in a biosphere reserve in Chiapas, Mexico

Luis Rico García-Amado, Ecology Department. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Manuel Ruiz Pérez, Ecology Department. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
Irene Iniesta-Arandia, Ecology Department. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Guillaume Dahringer, Pronatura-Sur A.C.
Felipe Reyes, Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas
Sara Barrasa, Colegio de Michoacán


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Governance of the commons depends on the capacity to generate collective action. Networks and rules that foster that collective action have been defined as social capital. However, their causal link is still not fully understood. We use social network analysis to assess social capital, decision-making, and collective action in a forest-based common pool resource management in La Sepultura Biosphere Reserve (Chiapas, Mexico). Our research analyzes the productive networks and the evolution of coffee groups in one community. The network shows some centrality, with richer landholders tending to occupy core positions and poorer landless peasants occupying peripheral ones. This has fostered the community’s environmentally oriented development but has also caused internal conflicts. Market requirements have shaped different but complementary productive networks, where organic coffee commercialization is the main source of bridging ties, which has resulted in more connectivity and resilience. Conservation attitudes, along with the institutional setting of the community, have promoted collective action. The unresolved conflicts, however, still leave some concerns about governance in the future.

Key words

collective action; community forest management; ejido; Mexico; social capital; social network analysis

Copyright © 2012 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087