How Key Sociodemographic and Spatial Variables Influence Stakeholders' Social Control Frames Regarding Natural Resource Conservation in East Sikkim, India

Document Type


Publication Date



Public engagement is fundamental to environmental planning, yet natural resource professionals often struggle to achieve desired stakeholder participation. This policy intention–action gap often is attributed to failure to integrate people's preferences into policy recommendations. Understanding stakeholders' social control frames, or preferences regarding how society should be organized, offers one response to this challenge. Understanding how these frames (i.e., hierarchist, individualist, egalitarian, and fatalist) emerge may facilitate natural resource planning that appropriately addresses uncertainties implicit in managing complex human-dominated systems. We hypothesized that sociodemographic and spatial variables play an important role in an individual's social control frames related to forest conservation in Sikkim, India. Here we (1) describe administration of a questionnaire to identify social control frames, (2) report results of logistic regression examining the probability of association among key variables and social control frames, and (3) discuss conservation implications of these associations. Our results indicate that although familial generations in region was the only independent variable occurring in all four social control models, other sociodemographic variables that occurred in only one or two models also could be critically important. Similarly, altitude-related preferences may be instructive as natural resource managers assess the suitability of altitude-specific conservation. We suggest that examining how sociodemographic and spatial variables interact with social control preferences may enable resource managers to re-imagine their responsibilities in ways that are more consistent with local cultures. This can serve as a catalyst for designing and implementing policies that sustain long-term conservation goals along with broader social legitimacy and acceptance.