Managing for Self-Organization in a Changing World : Societal Responses to Shoreline Change

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Shona K. Paterson (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:
David K. Loomis

Abstract: Catastrophic episodic natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes along with slower long-term natural processes such as erosion and sea level rise can have severe effects on the structure and function of human communities. These effects can be mitigated or magnified by management decisions land use plans and public policies. However they can also be influenced by the abilities of the affected communities to cope with and adapt to the changes brought about by the events in question. Determining how individuals and communities cope with such impacts - their resilience - can provide insight and understanding into avenues for adaptive management and strategies to cope with a range of coastal issues. This study sought to develop of a robust conceptualization of social resilience and generate a set of measurable indictors for one of the sub-components self-organization. An examination of the ability of North Carolina coastal residents to cope with shoreline changes and their preferences for management actions was undertaken to test the model once it was developed. Based on social psychology and sociology literature it was hypothesized that the ability to self-organized would exist upon a continuum within individuals and across communities. An index was developed to sub-group individuals along that continuum. This provided the basis to test a series of hypotheses aimed at determining if a linear increase in the importance that respondents attached to relevant social processes and institutions key to shoreline management would also be detected as self-organization level increased. Nine of the twelve null hypotheses developed during this study were rejected with significant differences found between levels of self-organization across multiple indicators. Although ultimately self-organization level was shown to have no affect on respondents' preferences for shoreline management actions in North Carolina this study did provide new insight into the role that self-organization can play in future coastal management.

Additional Information

Date: 2013
Social research, Environmental management, Coastal Management, Resource Allocation, Sea level rise, Self-organization, Social Resilience
Coastal zone management--North Carolina--Citizen participation
Natural disasters--North Carolina
Climatic changes--North Carolina

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