Resilience as pathway diversity: Linking systems, individual and temporal perspectives on resilience


Approaches to understanding resilience from psychology and sociology emphasise individuals' agency but obscure systemic factors. Approaches to understanding resilience stemming from ecology emphasise system dynamics such as feedbacks but obscure individuals. Approaches from both psychology and ecology examine the actions or attractors available in the present, but neglect how actions taken now can affect the configuration of the social-ecological system in the future.

Here, we propose an extension to resilience theory, which we label 'pathway diversity', that links existing individual, systems and temporal theories of resilience. In our theory of pathway diversity, resilience is greater if more actions are currently available and can be maintained or enhanced into the future.

Using a toy model of an agricultural social-ecological system, we show how pathway diversity could deliver a context-sensitive method of assessing resilience and guiding planning. Using a toy state-and-transition model of a poverty trap, we show how pathway diversity is generally consistent with existing definitions of resilience and can illuminate long-standing questions about normative and descriptive resilience.

Our results show that pathway diversity advances both theoretical understanding and practical tools for building resilience.


Link to centre authors: Haider, Jamila, Lade, Steven
Full reference: Lade, S. J., B. H. Walker, and L. J. Haider. 2020. Resilience as pathway diversity: linking systems, individual, and temporal perspectives on resilience. Ecology and Society 25(3):19.