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Abstract

Impacts from post-Fordist and poststaples economic transition in the Canadian natural resource sector have resulted in dramatic challenges to the livelihoods of many rural residents and the viability of many rural communities. This study seeks to understand community response to economic transition through a lens of social ecological resilience. This article puts forward Archer's theory of cultural morphogenesis as an analogous model of social ecological change that focuses attention on cultural systems, cultural elaboration, and collective action within an adaptive cycle of resilience. With case material from focused ethnographies of two forest-dependent communities, we identify distinctive interactions between culture and agency over time that condition community response to change, and we make an analytical distinction between the social system and cultural system. These insights point to catalysts for collective action and adaptation within a resilient cultural realm that extend beyond institutional factors such as economic dependency or political opportunity. By integrating culture, we also deepen the social theory contribution to social-ecological resilience.