The interplay of well-being and resilience in applying a social-ecological perspective

Innovative combinations of social and ecological theory are required to deal with complexity and change in human-ecological systems. We examined the interplay and complementarities that emerge by linking resilience and social well-being approaches. First, we reflected on the limitations of applying ecological resilience concepts to social systems from the perspective of social theory, and particularly, the concept of well-being. Second, we examined the interplay of resilience and well-being concepts in fostering a social-ecological perspective that promises more appropriate management and policy actions. We examined five key points of interplay: (1) the limits of optimization thinking (e.g., maximum sustainable yield), (2) the role of human agency and values, (3) understandings of scale, (4) insights on “controlling variables,” and (5) perspectives on thresholds and boundaries. Based on this synthesis, we offer insights to move incrementally towards interdisciplinary research and governance for complex social-ecological systems.


Armitage, D., Béné, C., Charles, A.T., Johnson, D., Allison, E.H. (2012)
Ecology and Society 17(4): 15