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Acta Amazonica

Print version ISSN 0044-5967

Abstract

MERTENS, Frédéric et al. Social networks, social capital and environmental governance in the Amazonian Gateway Territory. Acta Amaz. [online]. 2011, vol.41, n.4, pp.481-492. ISSN 0044-5967.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0044-59672011000400006.

The article presents an empirical study where social network analysis is used to map social capital among actors involved in environmental governance processes in the Brazilian Amazon. Using interviews, we carried out the mapping of the dialogue network regarding socio-environmental issues among 505 actors from the Amazonian Gateway Territory. The analysis identified 3384 dialogue relationships. Each actor has an average of 6,7 dialogue partners. The analysis of the structural characteristics of the dialogue network was used to build indicators of social capital of the bonding type, based on the mapping of the organization among actors from the same municipalities, and bridging type, based on the identification of relationships among actors from different municipalities. At the municipal level, the distribution of the two types of social capital allowed the characterization of groups of actors according to their differing participation in the environmental governance of the Territory. At the territorial level, the connectivity pattern among the 16 municipalities exhibits a balance between the two types of social capital and reveals the potential of communication and organization among actors, as demonstrated through the example of the local Agenda 21 projects. These results demonstrate how social network analysis can contribute to the definition (or re-definition) of the territories frontiers in order to include a set of municipalities whose cohesion is based on effective social relationships. We also propose governance actions for the Amazonian Gateway aiming at strengthening dialogue processes, reducing conflicts and promoting the sustainable use of natural resources in the Amazon.

Keywords : Environmental governance; social networks; social capital; territory development; natural resources management.

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