Differentiated migration as community disassembly: Resilience perspectives on catastrophic disturbances

Wrathall, David (2015). Differentiated migration as community disassembly: Resilience perspectives on catastrophic disturbances. UNU-EHS Working Paper. UNU-EHS.

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  • Sub-type Working paper
    Author Wrathall, David
    Title Differentiated migration as community disassembly: Resilience perspectives on catastrophic disturbances
    Series Title UNU-EHS Working Paper
    Volume/Issue No. 18
    Publication Date 2015-02
    Place of Publication Bonn
    Publisher UNU-EHS
    Pages 28
    Language eng
    Abstract Not all migration behaviours in the context of environmental change are the same. The elderly migrate differently from the young, men from women and the relatively wealthy from the relatively poor. This working paper aims to explain demographic change in post-disaster communities in systemic terms, applying the perspective of socialecological resilience in livelihood systems. Two concepts from ecological systems research may be useful for explaining changes in demographic composition of a community: regime shifts and ‘community disassembly’ from ecosystems ecology. Regime shifts explain disturbance and the transition between habitable/productive and uninhabitable/unproductive states. Community disassembly, explains the disappearance of particular species from a disturbed system and the consequent change in system structure. While this concept cannot be applied uncritically, it provides guidelines on the systemic effect of multiple differentiated responses to a disturbance, i.e. that responses are non-random (or rule-based). Applying these ideas to flooded communities in Honduras, this paper searches for rules governing differentiated responses and finds that neither environmental impacts nor migration responses are evenly distributed. Catastrophic flooding affects the basic architecture of livelihood systems, which provide stability in social systems. Some individuals respond to deteriorating stability in livelihood systems via migration toward new stable livelihood opportunities in urban systems. Social networks suggest a set of three context specific ‘rules’ that govern migration away from uninhabitable places: (1) the ‘cumulative causation’ of migration decisions; (2) an expanded set of parameters of migrant selectivity; and (3) the effects of a social network during crisis. Ultimately, these ‘rules’ also provide a logic for understanding systemic changes in the social fabric of the places that migrants leave behind, i.e. migration and the disassembly of communities. This working paper explores the conceptual use of these ideas to understand differentiated responses to disturbance in rich ethnographic detail.
    Keyword Environmental migration
    Socio-ecological systems
    Regime shift
    Community disassembly
    Copyright Holder UNU-EHS
    Copyright Year 2015
    Copyright type All rights reserved
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    Created: Thu, 21 May 2015, 18:43:16 JST