Rural Community Sustainability and the Commons: A Post-Disaster Experience

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Taisuke MIYAUCHI, Hokkaido University, Japan
In-depth field research in the field of Japanese environmental sociology has been conducted on the commons or collective natural resources management. These studies have clarified the diversity and dynamism of the commons. This paper investigates contemporary roles of the commons for community sustainability through an ethnographical case study of a Japanese rural area that was heavily affected by the tsunami that occurred on March 11, 2011.

The area had enjoyed successful collective management of various natural resources such as forest products, fish, seaweed, and river reeds. Community organizations had governed the natural resources, culture, and residents’ lives. However, since the tsunami in 2011, the area has undergone community reconstruction and reorganization. Communities were dissolved, divided, depopulated, or merged in this process. This situation, naturally, led to reformation in natural resource management and the related social systems.

From the post-disaster experience of this area, this study reveals the diversified aspects and their dynamism of the commons as well as how they function, in both a positive and negative way, for the post-disaster recovery process. Furthermore, I will present the key factors for the sustainability of the local socio-ecological system such as embedded collective social systems, trust of collectiveness, and policies that enable social adaptability.