, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 169–184 | Cite as

Socio-economic changes, social capital and implications for climate change in a changing rural Nepal

  • Anja BygEmail author
  • Lise Herslund


We investigate the use of social capital in the form of social ties in the face of commercialization, urbanization and climate change. While discussions of social capital often focus on whether people possess certain social ties or not our study shows that it is also necessary to consider under what circumstances people can make use of their ties. The use of different kinds of ties varies with context and is not as clear cut as suggested in the literature. For example families closer to the city are in a better position to take advantage of new opportunities. Using a combination of ties people have engaged in high-input agriculture, business and paid employment. Diversification of livelihoods has made many people less sensitive to climate change, but this does not translate into decreased vulnerability for the community. Intensive agriculture and lower community cohesion seems unsustainable in the long run. Thus, decreased vulnerability at the household level may come at the price of increased vulnerability at higher levels and negative consequences for the wider social–ecological system. Evaluating vulnerability and the role of social ties depends on the unit and sector of analysis, and the temporal and spatial scale.


Adaptation Livelihood diversification High-input agriculture Social ties Vulnerability 



We wish to thank the inhabitants of the three study areas who shared their time and insights with us. We also owe thanks to faculty and staff of the Institute of Forestry, Tribhuvan University who assisted us in the work, and two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped improve the manuscript. This study was supported by Danida grants 09-006LIFE and 104.Dan.8.L.716.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social, Economic and Geographical Sciences GroupThe James Hutton InstituteAberdeenUK
  2. 2.Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource ManagementUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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