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Social networks and the resilience of rural communities in the Global South: a critical review and conceptual reflections

Till Rockenbauch, Department of Geography, University of Bonn
Patrick Sakdapolrak, Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna


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In the last decades, a growing scholarship has outlined the crucial role of social networks as a source of resilience. However, with regard to the Global South, the role of social networks for the resilience of rural communities remains an under-researched and underconceptualized issue, because research remains scattered between different strands and has rarely been integrated from a resilience perspective. To provide common ground for the exchange between disciplines and to identify steps towards a more comprehensive social network perspective on the resilience of rural communities in the Global South, we present a systematic review of contemporary case studies from three strands of research: (i) natural resource management, (ii) agricultural innovation, and (iii) social support. Although studies in each strand have their own particular strengths and weaknesses in addressing aspects of the resilience of rural communities in the Global South, they all share a static view of the outcomes of social networks, tend to emphasize structure over agency, and neglect spatial dimensions of social relations. To address these challenges, we propose a translocal social network perspective on resilience that views rural communities as being embedded in social networks that connect people and facilitate the flow of resources, information, and knowledge between places.

Key words

Global South; migration; resilience; rural communities; social networks; translocality

Copyright © 2017 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