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Pastoralist Dilemmas: Where to Go and When to Move, or with Whom to Talk?


Finke, Peter (2021). Pastoralist Dilemmas: Where to Go and When to Move, or with Whom to Talk? Human Ecology, 49(6):831-842.

Abstract

Pastoralists in Western Mongolia face a range of challenges during their annual grazing cycle due to the simultaneous but conflicting needs for secure allocation rules and a high degree of flexibility. In this paper, I analyze the seasonal arrangements and corresponding strategies that households adopt to deal with unpredictable environmental conditions and the demands of supplying livestock with sufficient forage throughout the year. In contrast to game theory simulations, I argue that dilemmas are: a) often not a question of cooperating or not, but form continua of more or less; and b) socially embedded as people operate in a multitude of relationships that influence their decision-making. Therefore, sharing information in a manner that prioritizes the requirements of individual households while not jeopardizing social reputation is crucially important. Rhetorical skills play an important role in this regard, but there are also situations when herders blatantly ignore state law or local institutional arrangements and risk confrontation to ensure the survival of livestock leading to a situation where free-riding may at times become the dominant strategy.

Abstract

Pastoralists in Western Mongolia face a range of challenges during their annual grazing cycle due to the simultaneous but conflicting needs for secure allocation rules and a high degree of flexibility. In this paper, I analyze the seasonal arrangements and corresponding strategies that households adopt to deal with unpredictable environmental conditions and the demands of supplying livestock with sufficient forage throughout the year. In contrast to game theory simulations, I argue that dilemmas are: a) often not a question of cooperating or not, but form continua of more or less; and b) socially embedded as people operate in a multitude of relationships that influence their decision-making. Therefore, sharing information in a manner that prioritizes the requirements of individual households while not jeopardizing social reputation is crucially important. Rhetorical skills play an important role in this regard, but there are also situations when herders blatantly ignore state law or local institutional arrangements and risk confrontation to ensure the survival of livestock leading to a situation where free-riding may at times become the dominant strategy.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:790 Sports, games & entertainment
390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Ecology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Anthropology
Physical Sciences > Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
Social Sciences & Humanities > Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Sociology and Political Science, Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous), Environmental Science (miscellaneous), Anthropology, Ecology
Language:English
Date:25 October 2021
Deposited On:02 Feb 2022 13:14
Last Modified:26 Apr 2024 01:40
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0300-7839
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-021-00268-3
Project Information:
  • : FunderUniversität Zürich
  • : Grant ID
  • : Project Title
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)