Resilience and vulnerability: Complementary or conflicting concepts?

Fiona Miller*, Henny Osbahr, Emily Boyd, Frank Thomalla, Sukaina Bharwani, Gina Ziervogel, Brian Walker, Jörn Birkmann, Sander Van der Leeuw, Johan Rockström, Jochen Hinkel, Tom Downing, Carl Folke, Donald Nelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

471 Citations (Scopus)
487 Downloads (Pure)


Resilience and vulnerability represent two related yet different approaches to understanding the response of systems and actors to change; to shocks and surprises, as well as slow creeping changes. Their respective origins in ecological and social theory largely explain the continuing differences in approach to social-ecological dimensions of change. However, there are many areas of strong convergence. This paper explores the emerging linkages and complementarities between the concepts of resilience and vulnerability to identify areas of synergy. We do this with regard to theory, methodology, and application. The paper seeks to go beyond just recognizing the complementarities between the two approaches to demonstrate how researchers are actively engaging with each field to coproduce new knowledge, and to suggest promising areas of complementarity that are likely to further research and action in the field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2010 by the author(s). licensee Resilience Alliance. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher at


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