How do we know about resilience? An analysis of empirical research on resilience, and implications for interdisciplinary praxis

Barbara J. Downes*, Fiona Miller, Jon Barnett, Alena Glaister, Heidi Ellemor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We sought to understand how knowledge about resilience is produced. We examined empirical research into resilience from the social and natural sciences, randomly selected a sample of these studies and analysed their methods using common criteria to enable comparison. We found that studies of resilience from social scientists largely focus on the response of individuals to human-induced change events, while those from natural scientists largely focus on the response of ecological communities and populations to both environmental and human-induced change events. Most studies were of change over short time periods and focused on small spatial scales. Social science studies were dominated by one-off surveys, whereas natural science studies used a diversity of study designs to draw inferences about cause-and-effect. Whilst these differences typically reflect epistemological and methodological traditions, they also imply quite different understandings of resilience. We suggest that there are significant methodological barriers to producing empirical evidence about interactions between complex social and ecological systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number014041
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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