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Resilience as a Unifying Concept

Thorén, Henrik LU (2014) In International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28(3). p.303-324
Abstract
In sustainability research and elsewhere the notion of resilience is attracting growing interest and causing heated debate. Those focusing on resilience often emphasize its potential to bridge, integrate, and unify disciplines. This paper attempts to evaluate these claims. Resilience is investigated as it appears in several fields, including materials science, psychology, ecology, and sustainability science. It is argued that two different concepts of resilience are in play: one local, the other global. The former refers to the ability to return to some reference state after a disturbance, the latter the maintenance of some property during a disturbance. An implication of this analysis is that the various uses of the resilience concept are... (More)
In sustainability research and elsewhere the notion of resilience is attracting growing interest and causing heated debate. Those focusing on resilience often emphasize its potential to bridge, integrate, and unify disciplines. This paper attempts to evaluate these claims. Resilience is investigated as it appears in several fields, including materials science, psychology, ecology, and sustainability science. It is argued that two different concepts of resilience are in play: one local, the other global. The former refers to the ability to return to some reference state after a disturbance, the latter the maintenance of some property during a disturbance. An implication of this analysis is that the various uses of the resilience concept are more closely related than has been previously been suggested. Furthermore it is argued that there is a preference towards using highly abstract versions of the concept. This explains the apparent context insensitivity of the concept but presents a problem to those hoping to establish a research programme based on it. From this we argue that the project of conceptual unification does not, on its own, imply a methodologically, or even theoretically, uni- fied empirical project. Studying resilience in the field—that is the actual structures and dynamics that determine the resilience of par- ticular systems—will involve deploying a range of different methods, tools, and techniques. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
unification, interdisciplinarity, concepts, resilience, pluralism, sustainability science
in
International Studies in the Philosophy of Science
volume
28
issue
3
pages
303 - 324
publisher
Taylor & Francis
external identifiers
  • wos:000346055600005
  • scopus:84919833387
ISSN
0269-8595
DOI
10.1080/02698595.2014.953343
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
dbc67265-7c1f-409a-8b00-dff550d6c1ef (old id 4157709)
alternative location
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02698595.2014.953343#.VItruYfby1w
date added to LUP
2013-11-19 10:07:25
date last changed
2017-11-12 03:36:51
@article{dbc67265-7c1f-409a-8b00-dff550d6c1ef,
  abstract     = {In sustainability research and elsewhere the notion of resilience is attracting growing interest and causing heated debate. Those focusing on resilience often emphasize its potential to bridge, integrate, and unify disciplines. This paper attempts to evaluate these claims. Resilience is investigated as it appears in several fields, including materials science, psychology, ecology, and sustainability science. It is argued that two different concepts of resilience are in play: one local, the other global. The former refers to the ability to return to some reference state after a disturbance, the latter the maintenance of some property during a disturbance. An implication of this analysis is that the various uses of the resilience concept are more closely related than has been previously been suggested. Furthermore it is argued that there is a preference towards using highly abstract versions of the concept. This explains the apparent context insensitivity of the concept but presents a problem to those hoping to establish a research programme based on it. From this we argue that the project of conceptual unification does not, on its own, imply a methodologically, or even theoretically, uni- fied empirical project. Studying resilience in the field—that is the actual structures and dynamics that determine the resilience of par- ticular systems—will involve deploying a range of different methods, tools, and techniques.},
  author       = {Thorén, Henrik},
  issn         = {0269-8595},
  keyword      = {unification,interdisciplinarity,concepts,resilience,pluralism,sustainability science},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {303--324},
  publisher    = {Taylor & Francis},
  series       = {International Studies in the Philosophy of Science},
  title        = {Resilience as a Unifying Concept},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02698595.2014.953343},
  volume       = {28},
  year         = {2014},
}