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Resilience and Vulnerability: Complementary or Conflicting Concepts?

Miller, F., H. Osbahr, E. Boyd, F. Thomalla, S. Bharwani, G. Ziervogel, B. Walker, J. Birkmann, S. Van der Leeuw, J. Rockström, J. Hinkel, T. Downing, C. Folke, and D. Nelson. Ecology and Society 15(3): 11.


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.

Keywords: climate change, hazards, interdisciplinarity, resilience, social-ecological systems, vulnerability

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