Shared feelings of belonging and attachment held by people in relation to the place they live, and the development of collective identities that such feelings can promote, should be taken into account when seeking to understand the configuration and operation of socio-ecological systems (SES), in general, and the impact these factors have on SES adaptability, transformability and resilience, in particular. However, these topics have not been examined in enough depth in prior research. To address the effects of people’s feelings of place attachment and belonging in specific SES and the impacts they have on the aforementioned properties, in addition to theoretical instruments appropriate to the emotional and cognitive nature of this kind of phenomena, in-depth empirical qualitative studies are required to enhance understanding of the cultural and symbolic dimensions of the SES of which they are part. In this regard, the analysis of people–place connections, feelings of belonging and territorial identifications (territoriality) is strategic to understanding how the biophysical and the socio-cultural are interconnected and structured within SES. This article is based on a case study implemented through long-standing ethnographic research conducted in Pegalajar (Andalusia-Spain), which examined the struggle of the local population to recover the water system on which the landscape, as well as the ways of life that sustain their identity as a town, has been built. This case proposed a perspective on feelings and collective identifications as analytical interfaces between social and natural dimensions of SES in order to enhance understanding of their structuring and dynamics, particularly their resilience, and in order to manage them in a more sustainable way.
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