Paul McLaughlin, State University of New York–Geneseo, published “Climate Change, Adaptation, and Vulnerability: Reconceptualizing Societal-Environment Interaction Within a Socially Constructed Adaptive Landscape” in the September 2011 issue of Organization & Environment.
This article reconceptualizes current analyses of adaptation and vulnerability to climate change within an evolutionary theory of social change premised on the concept of a socially constructed adaptive landscape. The latter describes a negotiated and contested fitness terrain. Individual and corporate actors simultaneously adapt to and actively manipulate this terrain by using alternative collective action frames, mobilizing resources, and creating or exploiting political opportunities in order to legitimate or delegitimate social structures and their associated technologies at various levels of analysis. Adaptation is conceptualized as occurring through homeostatic, developmental, rational choice, and populational mechanisms. Vulnerability results from the adaptive failure of social structures sustaining individual and collective health, livelihood, and well-being. This framework combines organizational sociologists’ insights into structure–environment interaction; constructionists’ attention to agency, language, culture, and values; and political ecologists’ concerns with power, inequality, and processes of marginalization.
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