3. Five paradigms of collective action underlying the human dimension of conservation

  1. David W. Macdonald5 and
  2. Katherine J. Willis6
  1. Laurent Mermet1,
  2. Katherine Homewood2,
  3. Andrew Dobson3 and
  4. Raphaël Billé4

Published Online: 25 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118520178.ch3

Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2

Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2

How to Cite

Mermet, L., Homewood, K., Dobson, A. and Billé, R. (2013) Five paradigms of collective action underlying the human dimension of conservation, in Key Topics in Conservation Biology 2 (eds D. W. Macdonald and K. J. Willis), John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118520178.ch3

Editor Information

  1. 5

    Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Department of Zoology, Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Tubney House, University of Oxford, UK

  2. 6

    Biodiversity Institute, Oxford Martin School, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK

Author Information

  1. 1

    AgroParisTech, 19 avenue du Maine, Paris, France

  2. 2

    Department of Anthropology, University College London, Gower Street, London, UK

  3. 3

    Keele University, Keele, UK

  4. 4

    Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, 27 rue Saint Guillaume, Paris, France

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 FEB 2013
  2. Published Print: 15 APR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470658765

Online ISBN: 9781118520178



  • co-ordination paradigm;
  • conservation action;
  • conservation biology;
  • ecosystem;
  • governance paradigm;
  • government paradigm;
  • minority action paradigm;
  • revolution paradigm


This chapter focuses on the question of collective action addressing the human dimension of conservation: ethical, cultural, and social. The first part of the chapter explains the five fundamental paradigms of collective action that underpin both lay and academic discourses on action for conservation. The paradigms are government paradigm, co-ordination paradigm, revolution paradigm, governance paradigm, and minority action paradigm. The second part of the chapter provides an illustration of such clarification. It introduces current controversies about community based conservation in Africa-more particularly, in East Africa's Maasailand-and show how the five-paradigms model proposed can shed light on them. The chapter ends with a discussion of some possible misunderstandings hindering the effort to work on collective action across conservation biology and social sciences, and offers some suggestions for further learning and research.