There are increasing calls for conceptualizing adaptation as future pathways as a foresight tool for adaptation planning and implementation. To assist understanding of future adaptation pathways, this paper used ethnographic approaches to understand past pathways of response to major social and political change over the last seven decades in a rural Transylvanian community. The results identified five main socio-ethnic groups that had different pathways of response to key periods of change. These periods provided different constraints and opportunities, and shaped the accumulation and loss of different categories of assets for each socio-ethnic group. Findings show that adaptation is an ongoing process in which responses and decisions are patterned along multiple, socially contingent trajectories with continuities and legacies. Importantly, while the different groups had interrelated pathways, these were associated with a powerful normative pathway that was implicated in producing and reinforcing local social hierarchies. In this case, the normative pathway was a mix of practicing subsistence agriculture and small scale flexible income generation. The nuanced understanding of the change and response dynamics in the village provide important insights for anticipating responses to, and the impacts of, future change. It also highlights the need for holistic and multi-perspective approaches when developing and implementing adaptation pathways. These approaches should responsibly and carefully consider the implications of particular future paths for all concerned, but especially for those that are the most marginalized in society.
- Adaptation pathways
- Subsistence farming