Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 325–339 | Cite as

Power and politics of social–ecological regime shifts in the Chilika lagoon, India and Tam Giang lagoon, Vietnam

  • Prateep Kumar Nayak
  • Derek Armitage
  • Mark Andrachuk
Original Article


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.


Adaptation Environment Coastal-marine Governance Power Politics Regime shift 



This research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada grants to P. K. Nayak and D. Armitage. Additional funding has been provided by the University of Waterloo through the Office of the Provost and the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Ecohydrology. M. Andrachuk’s work in Tam Giang is further supported through a Doctoral Research Award from International Development Research Center (IDRC) and SSHRC doctoral award. We wish to express our appreciation to the special issue editor Alida Bundy and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions.

Supplementary material

10113_2015_775_MOESM1_ESM.docx (18 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 17 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Prateep Kumar Nayak
    • 1
    • 4
  • Derek Armitage
    • 2
    • 4
  • Mark Andrachuk
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Environment, Enterprise and DevelopmentUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Environment and Resource StudiesUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.Geography and Environmental ManagementUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  4. 4.Environmental Change and Governance GroupUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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