Power and politics of social–ecological regime shifts in the Chilika lagoon, India and Tam Giang lagoon, Vietnam
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- Nayak, P.K., Armitage, D. & Andrachuk, M. Reg Environ Change (2016) 16: 325. doi:10.1007/s10113-015-0775-4
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Analyses of ecological regime shifts primarily focus on abrupt, long-term and significant changes that trigger fundamental reorganisation in ecosystem structure and function. There remains limited empirical work on the relationship between regime shifts and social inequities, power imbalances, and social and environmental injustices. Inadequate attention to this social context restricts our ability to predict and avert impending regime shifts, or to effectively navigate where thresholds have been crossed. In this paper, we offer an initial empirical assessment of politics and power in two coastal lagoons in India and Vietnam experiencing abrupt change. We adopt a realist view of power to: (1) assess the social relations structuring human–environment interactions in both lagoons; (2) characterise the dominant framings and narratives that influence if and how regime shifts are understood; (3) consider who wins and loses if and when regime shifts and other forms of rapid environmental change take place; and (4) reflect on the implications of power and politics for the governance of regime shifts in linked human–ocean settings.