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“Rock in Pond”: The three A’s of Institutional Bricolage Jessica de Koning, Wageningen University Based on PhD research on community forestry in the Bolivian and Ecuadorian Amazon, this paper provides further thinking on institutional bricolage and the processes of institutional reshaping. It does so by using the analogy of a rock thrown in a pond to describe three practices of institutional bricolage. Practices of institutional bricolage Delineating broad characteristics of bricolage still leaves us with the question of how are these processes combined or blended to produce hybrid institutions in particular contexts. Building on the broad elements of bricolage defined by Cleaver (2012), de Koning (2011) tracks three types of practice adopted by local actors, which shape the way institutions are formed and altered at community level. These practices are aggregation, alteration, and articulation. The practices show the different ways in which local communities respond to institutions and help to explain the varied evolution of institutions. The process of institutional bricolage that happens when bureaucratic institutions are introduced into a pre-existing socially embedded setting can be described metaphorically as resembling a rock that is thrown into a pond. As it enters the water, it creates a ripple on the surface that widens out. The rock, in this case, is the formally designed institution that has been ‘thrown into a pond’ of locally embedded institutions, knowledge, technologies, and conditions. The throwing of a rock in a pond produces a well-known effect: the rock enters the water, sinks and produces ripples on the water surface, in other words, affects the socially embedded institutions. However, the comparison stops there. As it turns out, the rock does not necessarily sink in the water nor is the rock as solid as it would normally appear. There are at least three possible outcomes of this rock-like item being thrown into the water that relate directly to the identified practices. 1. The rock enters the water ‘normally’ but then dissolves in the water, like sugar. 2. The water resembles soft ice and the thrown rock leaves a mark or a dent on it. Furthermore, the rock transforms into a film on the surface, like oil. 3. The rock bounces off the water, as if thrown on thick, hard ice. In this case, the rock does not enter the water and is forced to go in another direction. Similarly, there are at least three consequences or outcomes of the different processes of bricolage. Each of these outcomes relates to one of the three practices: aggregation, alteration, and articulation. Rock Rock Pond Pond Water Rock Soft Ice Aggregation Thick Ice Alteration Articulation Figure ‘Rock in pond’ image of institutional bricolage Aggregation Aggregation, or the recombination of different types of institutions and social-cultural elements, often involves embedded institutions and social characteristics, such as culture, routines, traditions, social norms, needs, expectancies, or experience. These are recombined with formal institutions that are imposed on the community such as forest regulations, standards, or technical norms on logging. In this recombination, the formal institutions are given either a new meaning or a new purpose. The outcome of this process can be described as a more or less balanced situation in which both types of institution correspond, or are even in harmony. This process results in the necessary correlation between the formal institutional frameworks and locally embedded institutional, social and cultural elements. This process also often results in multipurpose institutions. Alteration Alteration, the adaptation of institutions, can be related to both imposed institutions and locally embedded institutions, such as cultural beliefs or social norms. Local actors are often found tweaking and tinkering with different institutions to make them better fit their livelihoods or identity. This practice can vary from making small changes to complete reinterpretations and negation of certain institutions in which it is hard to predict the actual outcome. Necessary improvisation to ensure some level of social applicability are important elements in practices of alteration. Alteration also often entails the adaptation of well-worn practices to new circumstances. Not only the introduced institutions are subject to practices of alteration, also local embedded institutions and ideas can be altered. Articulation Articulation, the asserting of traditional identities and culture, could be considered as a form of alteration if it was not for the notable claim made and just as notable rejection of formal institutions. The introduced formal institution bounces off a shield of local perceptions of traditions and identity. Articulation is as much visible in the actual practices as it is in discursive practices. Articulation in the cases happened when the forest regulations were directly in conflict with local identities. In some cases this leads to a calm but firm distancing in other it may almost lead to a revolt. This depends on how strong the sense of identity, or the sense of the self, is. As said before, articulation always leads to a rejection of the forest regulations. This practice may also result in a situation of normative pluriformity and selective adherence to different institutional features. This process of articulation results then in a situation resembling a clash, a friction, or a discord between the different types of institutions. References Cleaver F ( 2012) Development through bricolage: rethinking institutions for natural resource management, Abingdon, Routledge/Earthscan. Koning, J. de 2011. Reshaping institutions – Bricolage processes in smallholder forestry in the Amazon. PhD dissertation. Wageningen, the Netherlands: Forest and Nature Conservation Policy, Wageningen University. Koning, J. de, and C. Benneker. 2012. Bricolage practices in local forestry. In Forest and nature governance: A practice based approach, eds. B. Arts, J. Behagel, S. van Bommel, J. de Koning, and E. Turnhout. Dordrecht: Springer. Koning, J. de, and F. Cleaver (2012). Critical institutional thinking in community forestry – setting out an agenda for future research. In Forest people interfaces, eds. B. Arts, S. van Bommel, M. van Ros-Tonen, G. Verschoor. Wageningen, The Netherlands: Wageningen Academic Publishers.