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Curtin University
Coastal Collaboration Cluster

Socio-cultural Context

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The socio-cultural context of the coastal zone is comprised of social networks and communities of actors who operate within and among formal structures and informal systems, and whose worldviews and values differ widely.

Socio-cultural Context

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In essence, the socio-cultural context is the formative setting in which human activity is generated and mediated. This context interacts continually with the biophysical context within which human activity is embedded, thus creating a socio-ecological system. In relation to coastal adaptation, this interaction is characterised by multiple scales, complexity and uncertainty.
Theme 2 explores how institutional structures and cultures, and the social networks among stakeholders play a role in explaining decision-making about the coastal zone.
Conducted by the Adelaide University and Flinders Univer-sity, Theme 2 builds on a range of case studies about decisions made for coastal developments across South Australia and explores the social context for decision-making by assessing preparedness of peri-urban regions for sea level rise.

The Socio-cultural Context Theme investigates the informal and formal associations among community, industry and government in relation to knowledge formation and its use in decision-making. The Theme aims to identify barriers to adaptive coastal management.


The research aims of the Socio-cultural Context Theme are to:

Design and Methods

The research for Theme 2 is based upon document analysis, social network mapping, and in-depth interviews with the intent to:

Key Outputs

Theme Leaders

Professor Nick Harvey
Executive Dean Faculty of
Humanities and Social Sciences
Adelaide University, Adelaide SA 5005
Phone: +61 8 8303 4163

Dr Beverley Clarke
School of the Environment Management
Flinders University, Adelaide SA 5001
Phone: +61 8 8201 2760

Other key researchers

Michael Scott: Social network analysis
Nicole Pelton: Coast Protection Board Advice Decision-making in SA
Dr Melissa Nursey-Bray (Adelaide University)
Taryn Mumford (Adelaide University)

PhD research students

Nicole Pelton (Adelaide University)