Vol 31 No 1 (2015)

Panarchy, Transformation, and Place: Exploring Social Change and Resiliency Through an Ecological Lens

Nicholas Richard Graeme Stanger
University of Victoria
Joy Vance Beauchamp
Royal Roads University
Published July 27, 2015
  • panarchy theory,
  • complexity theory,
  • transformation,
  • place-connection


This paper uses panarchy theory, a complexity theory used in environmental management, to describe transformation in social systems. To introduce the concept of panarchy, the authors reflect on the naming of their new son and the changes that their choice of name caused in their family. They then bridge this analogy into Author 1's, (first name) preliminary dissertation research findings that invited exemplary Canadians to revisit their childhood and adolescent transformative place. Using video ethnography and participatory action research, these interviews should be simultaneously viewed when reading this article at http://www.transformativeplaces.com/. The five components of panarchy, scale, time, holarchy, cycles, and cross-scale dependency are demonstrated by the interviewees' connection to their transformative outdoor childhood or adolescent place. Observing systems and the change that arises from 'release' events supports human and social resiliency. The terminology used in panarchy theory provides an ecological approach to describing social systems and their transformation.