Chinese pastoralism in rapid transformation: an institutional analysis of grassland management in Northern China

Yu, Lu
Books (2018)

Aachen: Shaker

ISBN: 978-3-8440-5681-5

This book presents an institutional analysis of grassland management undergoing rapid transformation, due to dramatic grassland degradation and intense institutional changes in local herding communities of China over the last three decades.

The study identifies nature-related transaction that are particularly relevant to social-ecological systems in which the actors face a set of potential decisions that may cause joint benefits or costs, leading to both physical and social interdependence. The analysis focuses on how institutions affect transactions by influencing their properties and by affecting characteristics of actors, which then creates feedback loops through institutional innovation, consequently affecting transactions in the future.

The results reveal that, over the last three decades, both nomadic and agro-pastoral communities have been facing challenges due to increasing uncertainty from both physical and social perspectives. The current institutional environment may lead to further decreasing populations, reduced livestock rearing, and increased inequality within these communities, all of which are expected to influence grassland management in the long term. The results also suggest that the current institutional environment does not take into account that pastoralists have adapted, and continue to adapt, to the complex and dynamic system of grassland use. Synthesizing the findings from the case studies, the dissertation analyzes the inter-relationship between transactions, actors and institutions in the context of a complex and dynamic social-ecological system, seeking to contribute towards the current scientific understanding of Chinese grassland management, which is one of the most urgent and important issues in China today.

Further experts

Aleksandrova, Mariya

Climate risk governance 

Banerjee, Aparajita

Environmental and Resource Sociology, Public Policy 

Dombrowsky, Ines


Hein, Jonas


Houdret, Annabelle

Political Scientist 

Lehmann, Ina

Political Science 

Schüpf, Dennis



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