In line with a global paradigm shift in the theory and practice of governance since the 1980s, state management of natural resources has increasingly been replaced by community management approaches. This shift is driven, in part, by the belief that local communities with strong social networks and norms (i.e., strong community social capital) can ably govern local resources. This paper examines the congruency between theoretical claims and empirical outcomes of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM), particularly in the presence of traditional social hierarchies that help maintain social norms (and hence community social capital), but also cause social stratification and inequitable allocation of natural resources. Results demonstrate that the contribution of community social capital to successful CBNRM depends not merely on the presence of community social capital, but also on the nature and degree of social stratification.

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