Understanding How Smallholders Integrated into Pericoupled and Telecoupled Systems

Dou, Yue; da Silva, Ramon Felipe Bicudo; McCord, Paul; Zaehringer, Julie G.; Yang, Hongbo; Furumo, Paul; Zhang, Jian; Pizarro, J. Cristóbal; Liu, Jianguo (2020). Understanding How Smallholders Integrated into Pericoupled and Telecoupled Systems. Sustainability, 12(4), p. 1596. MDPI 10.3390/su12041596

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Increasing connections and influences from near to far have changed social structures, accessto natural resources, and essential livelihoods of smallholders (i.e., those with incomes generatedprimarily from natural resources on small rural properties). However, the potential benefits andnegative impacts from these connections to smallholders’ livelihoods and social-ecological effectsremain understudied. In this paper, we applied the frameworks of pericoupling and telecoupling(human-nature interactions between adjacent and distant systems, respectively) to systematicallyinvestigate how the flows linking smallholder systems to other systems affect their livelihoods, andcausing varying economic, social, and environmental effects from case to case. We synthesized 12cases of smallholder systems around the world that are linked to adjacent and distant systems throughflows of goods, people, resources, and/or information. In each case, we summarized smallholders’agency, i.e., capability on the formation or operation of these flows, and the changes on livelihoodson the economic, social, and environment effects. Results suggest that strong smallholder agencyis associated more with positive than negative effects. Smallholders with medium to high agencyhave greater overall well-being within the area of interest. Smallholders integrated in pericoupledsystems often have strong agency. Being spillover systems in an intercoupled system (e.g., large-scaleagricultural investments) can often cause negative outcomes unless smallholders have additionalpericoupling flows. Our findings suggest one potential approach to ending poverty and increasingwell-being for smallholders is creating and increasing pericoupling flows to empower smallholdersfor desired livelihood and social-ecological outcomes.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Zähringer, Julie Gwendolin






[420] Managing telecoupled landscapes for the sustainable provision of ecosystem services and poverty alleviation
[803] Cluster: Land Resources




Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

29 Jun 2020 17:22

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:38

Publisher DOI:






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