Spatial Frames and the Quest for Institutional Fit

  • C. S. A. (Kris) van Koppen
  • Simon R. Bush
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Environmental Sociology and Policy book series (PASTESP)


Spatial frames play a crucial role in debates over environmental sustainability. Building on a social scientific understanding of space, we discuss key spatial frames in biodiversity and ecosystem management, including territory, social-ecological systems, global networks and flows, and sense of place. In evaluating these frames, we argue that the state with its territorial power has clear limitations in effectively and legitimately addressing ecosystem problems, even when it remains a crucial power-container and regulator. Adapting institutional arrangements to ecosystem scale, as advocates of social-ecological systems propose, is often inappropriate because of cross-scale socio-political dynamics. Given the importance of global flows, we argue that place-based or landscape approaches that bring together local ecosystem management and global value chains present an ambivalent, but highly relevant spatial framing.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. S. A. (Kris) van Koppen
    • 1
  • Simon R. Bush
    • 1
  1. 1.Wageningen UniversityWageningenNetherlands

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