The social learning discourse: trends, themes and interdisciplinary influences in current research

R. Rodela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


The literature on social learning advances a critique to the command-and-control approach to resource management, and often, this critique is made by borrowing insights and ideas from disciplines other than resource management, which led to certain conceptual and methodological turns that now characterise the social learning discourse. This paper is based on an extensive survey of the social learning literature; ninety-seven studies were reviewed and classified by the type of natural resource, its geographical location, type of application and related aspects, which helped to identify some general trends. Disciplinary influences that contributed to shape the research are analysed and discussed. The findings suggest that social learning research is issue-driven and that some types of natural resources and geographical areas prevail over others. This study finds that deliberative democracy, pedagogy and research of complex adaptive systems have contributed the most to shaping the current conceptual base of the discourse. Interdisciplinary engagement, as well as choices in terms of what has been borrowed and how the borrowed concepts have been used, help to explain the heterogeneity of frameworks and definitions in the social learning literature
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-166
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • natural-resource management
  • deliberative democracy
  • public-participation
  • ethical leadership
  • impact assessment
  • river-basin
  • policy
  • organizations
  • comanagement
  • perspective


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