Concepts 1 - Literature

Source 1: Joern Birkmann, Denis Changseng, Jan Wolfertz, Neysa Setiadi,  Nuray Karancı, Gözde Koçak İkizer, Christian Kuhlicke, Anna Kunath, Gunnar Dressler, Hugh Deeming, Maureen Fordham 2012-04-03. Early Discussion and Gap Analysis on Resilience. Deliverable 1.1. Work Package 1.

Introduction to the initial project literature review
What is resilience? Despite its popularity in political and policy circles much debate remains and indeed contradictory applications. Resilience as a contemporary concept brings together, in varied ways and with different priority, sets of empirical concepts that have long been the focus of social analysis. To this extent the novelty of resilience is in the re-prioritisation of existing social and social-ecological categories and through the emergence of a new, compound concept and policy ambition. For example, anthropological literature on community studies has long focused on the apparent contradiction of continuity and change, i.e. that communities able to persist into the future and cope with the rise of colonialism, industrial and late modernity necessarily change and embrace some elements of the new in order to maintain core functions. Trade-offs in culture, economic base, family structure, etc., are integral to this and can force tensions between short-term and long-term gain. The use of rifles and later skidoos in North Canadian communities enabled a short-term increase in the value, status and productivity of hunting, but without strong institutional constraints to prevent over-hunting has also contributed to ecological decline and the undermining of hunting as a cultural and livelihood mainstay. So, much of the ‘content’ of contemporary concerns with ‘resilience’ have long been studied, similarly there are cases where the term of resilience is being used to describe outlier concepts to the focus of this report. Most common here is the confusion between resilience and resistance that has been used in some engineering literature. We acknowledge this in the analysis presented below but our focus is primarily on those variants of resilience that argue for continuity through change. What is to be continued, what is to change and how these are determined under contrasting epistemological lenses is the aim of our analysis, through which we generate an integrated view to frame and test through empirical work in Embrace. In addition, the theory of resilience and the concept also underscore that crises can be an important trigger for change and reorganization, which clearly differentiates resilience from other concepts, which mainly view crises and disaster as purely negative events.

In this working paper, we reviewed some of the main existing concepts on resilience from psychological, ecological and social-ecological, organizational and institutional, critical infrastructures, as well as practical perspectives. A summary of the core concepts on resilience is provided in the Table 1.

The contemporary framing in climate change and resource management literature of resilience emerged most notably from ecological science. The term resilience was introduced by Holling (1973) as the capacity to persist within such a domain in the face of change. He proposed that ‘‘resilience determines the persistence of relationships within a system and is a measure of the ability of these systems to absorb changes of state variables, driving variables, and parameters, and still persist’’. Some important key terms emerging from this field are the theory of “surprise” (sudden change in a system), multiple equilibria, tipping points, adaptive renewal cycle and panarchy (cross-scale interaction, especially in terms of processes of revolt and remember ). His work was contrasting the single equilibrium view referred to as “engineering resilience” that dominated the mainstream ecology, which interpreted resilience as the return time after disturbance. Up to present time, this perspective has influenced further empirical work as well as other scientific disciplines, especially in the discourse of sustainability, resource management (and importantly adaptive resource management) global environmental change, and disaster risk reduction. Consequently, the original meanings or definitions have undergone considerable extension, modification and change. There has been no convergence of various resilience definitions in one particular perspective; however there has been a dominance of Resilience Alliance and its journal Ecology and Society that has effectively argued for and demonstrated the utility of resilience from this social-ecological systems perspective (Moser, 2008). Resilience is firstly concerned with the disturbance that impacts a system (e.g. social-ecological system) and its effect on functional processes within this system and its sub-components. Secondly, resilience research examines whether the system has capacities to reorganize itself in the face of stresses through processes such as revolt and remember, in order to maintain its fundamental functions. In the perspective of social-ecological systems, other characteristics of resilience, regarding learning and adapting were also highlighted (Berkes et al., 2003; Folke, 2006). Thus, one widely used definition of resilience in this field involves: i) response to disturbance, ii) capacity to self-organize, iii) capacity to learn and adapt (Folke, 2006; Parry et al, 2007). Further discussions emerging from social science perspectives link resilience with e.g. social learning, social capital, foresight and anticipation, reflective capacity of agencies or organizations, as well as linkage with social vulnerability and the issues of entitlements, capabilities, freedom and choices or of justice, fairness and equity. Concerning how to deal with various definitions and concepts, Brand and Jax (2007) suggested to treat resilience either as a “descriptive” concept (explaining the state of a system based on specific theoretical basis, e.g. ecology) or a "normative" concept (as a way of thinking using a broader meaning across disciplines to identify a set of ideal systems properties) and as a “boundary object” (platform to link various actors and interests). Resilience, in the SES lens, has been a hybrid concept, compared to the “descriptive” original ecological resilience concept of Holling. The more “normative concept” of social-ecological resilience tends to incorporate specific values, e.g., cultural diversity. However, ecological and social-ecological resilience has a theoretical and analytic approach, since it can explain processes of destruction and reorganisation linked to different temporal and spatial scales. The existing social-ecological system approach was acknowledged as being a useful analytical basis for managing social-ecological systems; it has a solid theoretical basis and considers social-ecological systems and its interplay with disturbance as a complex dynamic system rather than linear thinking. It is also in line with sustainable thinking (Turner, 2010). However, it is still criticised as being too “reductionistic” in terms of handling the complex social or human systems. Moreover, in the recent policy discourses, resilience is still often used in relation to resistance against change rather than progressive and dynamic as it is in SES thinking (Brown, 2011). Also, a question to what extent resilience is supportive to transformation is addressed. However, one has also to acknowledge that resilience theory goes beyond resistance, when focusing on learning, reorganization and particularly on the notion that crises can be seen as opportunities for change and renewal or even transformation, since in these times - as Berkes et al. (2003) formulate it - control is weak and uncertainty is high, which opens the space for innovations (see Berkes et al., 2003)

In contrast to the resilience school presented above, the concept of resilience was also developed in the psychological perpective. Research has been of interest in health, life and personality adaptation, child development, psychiatry, sociology, terrorism, and military. It relates to the capacity to choose a vital and authentic life, and also describes a process of overcoming the negative effects of risk exposure (recovery to a pre-exposure status), coping successfully with traumatic experiences (avoiding harm), and avoiding the negative trajectories associated with risks. In this sense the construction of resilience in psychological literature is consistently conservative – it is interested in mitigating change and the return to a pre-impact status of assumed maximum psychological health. There is some work that has positioned resilience as a mechanism for or in comparison with alternative approaches that could aim for improved psychological health and wellbeing. For example, it is highlighted that resilience can be strengthened by enhancing your resilience core which is made up of five essential characteristics of resilience. These are: 1) Meaningful life 2) Perseverance 3) Self reliance 4) Equanimity and 5) Coming home to yourself –existential aloneness. A strong resilience core gives a person the ability to structure his or her life in a resilient way. On the other hand, a large number of psychological researches have focused on positive emotions and successful resilience and adaptation. For example, positive emotions promote flexibility in thinking and problem solving, counteract the psychological effects of negative emotions, facilitating coping and enhanced well-being and play an important role in recovery process.  

Furthermore, research in the context of psychological resilience has shifted from individual-internal capacity (i.e. factors that contribute to health and well being) towards an external (i.e. takes into account the influences of social context, both proximal and distal well being) and multi-level perspective. There is also a shift in thinking away from negative outcomes to protective factors (i.e. positive emotion, perseverance). Additionally, there is a change in understanding to protective processes rather than protective factors. In this context, the conceptualisation moves away from a static, individual trait to a dynamic process operating at multi-interdependent levels and scales. Therefore, resilience is evaluated in two broad but interrelated domains, which are (a) resilience in terms of mental health and development outcomes (the psychological domain) and (b) psychological factors at the individual and community levels that are related to disaster preparedness/mitigation, and terrorism (individual, the social, economical, and physical domain), and thus are related to resilience (preparedness, protective actions, mitigation behaviours are assumed to lead to resiliency). 

It is also key to highlight that the importance of preparedness in hazard adjustment challenges our thinking that disaster preparedness might both be a direct predictor of resilience and a mediator between the aforementioned psychological variables (e.g., personality) and a resilient outcome. This assumption deserves to be investigated within a testable comprehensive model.

Current gaps in psychological research include lack of theoretical models combining variables from studies addressing (a) mental health and development and (b) simultaneously, development of psychometrically sound resilience scales and inventories that allow assessment of those models in cross-cultural contexts and different kinds of disaster events, and investigation of a broad range of relevant variables in resilience research. Specifically, addressing ethnic/cultural variations and longitudinal research on impact of previous disasters on psychological resilience would prove valuable in reaching a more comprehensive picture.

It is interesting to note that within organisational research the differentiation between anticipation/planning and resilience is also present, particularly in operational terms and with regard to so called “High-Reliability-Organisations”. However, anticipation/planning is more about the control of established actions and far less attention is paid to finding of solutions of new problems. Thus, resilient organisations should be flexible and consider broadening their systems of information gathering and processing to incorporate new data on unexpected circumstances and causal relations. On the other hand, a resilience-based strategy can be seen as appropriate to adapt to unexpected developments, however, it is confronted with a deficit of implementation and acceptance. In this context the institutional aspect deserves greater attention. It bridges the gap between the micro and macro level aspects. This includes understanding the static and dynamic characteristics of institutions, particularly addressing institutional change and development process, and the different perspectives and architecture of institutions (i.e. mix institutions, polycentric and multilayered architecture etc.) in order to enhance resilience for different kinds of risks

In addition, resilience research in the context of critical infrastructures highlights that physical and social systems must be: (1) robust (2) redundant (3) resourceful, and (4) capable of rapid response. In this regard, resilience can be conceptualised as encompassing four interrelated dimensions: (1) technical, (2) organisational (3) social and (4) economic. Additionally, there is growing interest, particularly at the European level regarding how to strengthen the institutional and governance aspects at various levels to improve critical infrastructure resilience; particularly considering the unknown and ambiguous risks which can affect critical infrastructures. On the other hand, it is highlighted that the key challenge and gap is to address the quantification and measurement of resilience in all its interrelated dimensions.

In this first report, we also highlight the practical perspectives on resilience by providing an example in the case of UK Civil Protection Doctrine and the “Resilience Agenda” and the U.S Department of Homeland Security which views resilience as the aggregate result of achieving specific objectives, particularly in the context of critical systems and their key functions. This should help us to understand that this discussion of resilience is not just an abstract exercise. It is important to provide a substantive example of where the concept has been operationalised in a way that has informed policy and generated changes in practice that have been suggested to have led to more ‘resilient’ communities. However, in general it is found that clear criteria and parameters of resilience for specific uses still need to be defined. Resilience in this context is seen as a guiding vision, rather than a strong analytic and theory based tool or concept.
Interestingly, the concept of resilience has been adopted and extended in various ways, which sometimes generate different meanings to the original concept. Therefore, there are certain levels of tensions in the different conceptualization of resilience. In this context, we outline various perspectives or tensions focusing on:
(a) framing the goal ( descriptive, normative or hybrid, and also the consideration of subjectivity for various context and practical uses 
(b) system of interest (i.e. social (human) or ecological (environmental) or both,
(c) (c) scale of analysis (i.e. individual to society, scale the development pathways and tipping points should be addressed, as well as the need to address cross-scale interactions), 
(d) (d) characteristics of disturbance (i.e. source, awareness, severity, exposure, and temporal dimensions, and 
(e) (e) approach or mechanism (either anticipatory or recovery (pre-or post-event) to achieve resilience in conceptualizing resilience. 

Furthermore, we provide a brief overview of the mathematical methods used to model resilience (see section 5). In this context, some advantages and disadvantages of twelve modelling methods are discussed. It is important to understand that each definition of resilience applies a theoretical model and each theoretical model is transferred to several mathematical methods. These methods depend on certain levels of assumptions. Any violation of these assumptions tends to weaken the preciseness of the result and even render it totally useless. In addition, only mathematical methods with reasonable computational time are used. Hence, one has to be aware and pay attention to the limitation of the mathematical methods as a necessary step to progress from theory to action. In this context, we describe the: frequency of use of each respective model, provide  examples on how the model has been used and applied and finally also describe which  time and spatial scales are used in the model as well as the computation speed of various models.

In terms of informing the principal emBRACE aim – to understand how community resilience to natural hazards can be developed – the opportunity is also taken to briefly discuss the concept of community and how it has been employed, and problematised, within DRR literature (Hoggett, 1997).  Notwithstanding this critique and building on UK civil protection sector practice, it is suggested that to understand this complex and contested term, then using a typology of five community types may be useful (i.e. geographic, interest, circumstance, supporters/practice and identity).  From this perspective, social capital theory (e.g. Coleman, 1990; Putnam, 2000) has also been applied in DRR work (e.g. Murphy, 2007, Cordasco, 2006), as its explanation of the differing capacities and limitations of socially bonding, bridging and linking networks and the importance of trust and reciprocity in developing network relations, does provide an important lens through which community resilience may be explored.  It is important to understand, however, that each of these network attributes can have negative as well as positive ramifications for inter and intra network resilience, as well as for the resilience of the wider community.  It is also always important to explore networks to find out exactly who it is within them that has the greatest potential as a resilience builder (e.g. in terms of their bridging, linking and facilitating capabilities) (Pelling, 2008; Wenger, 2000).     

Finally, in our early discussion and gap analysis on resilience in section 6, we raise the following key framing questions  for the case study research and pillars of a framework:  

- How to frame the goals of the different conceptualization of resilience considering the purpose as well as the standpoint of the observers? Including scale and time frames as well as purpose and ideology, and accepting the same actor might have contradictory perspectives –e.g. play multiple roles and be involved in trading –off, e.g. resilience and transformation, or scales of action.

- How to assess trade-offs between the "goal" of resilience, e.g. when is sustaining status quo (absorbing the disturbance) better off than self-organization or than timely adaptation, or allowing systems failure for transformation? Including the role of canonical and shadow systems, decision-making and providing scope for adaptive experiments.

- How to define the ideal balance between anticipatory and response strategy in the light of performance and reliability? How to integrate resilience in the adaptive disaster risk management cycle? Important and related is to understand the costs and benefits of different phasing of acts within resilient systems – i.e. what system etc is allowed to fail, which is supported, which is open to transformation, the order of changes or stasis might then influence subsequent actors or perceptions of risk. Cybernetics made some play of this.

- How to position resilience among other objectives like performance, reliability, efficiency and equity (transparency) etc.? 

- What are the existing options to enhance resilience: rapid recovery options, foresight and timely adaptation, learning method? Who are the groups that can make this happen, acknowledging that we are interested in sustainable processes of learning not one of capacity fixes.

- How can we define appropriate system(s) for resilience analysis considering positionality and priority that emBRACE project will provide.

- Which time-scales should be used or need to be addressed in resilience analysis? It is pointed out that case studies should help to draw such an answer. Overall the Embrace project is interested in evolving levels of resilience over time to draw out the interplay of structure and agency (and institutions) or following child psychology of interior and context conditions.

- How to measure identify internal stressors? 

- How to address the measurement of resilience in all its interrelated dimensions, i.e. economic, technical, social and organizational? How do we move from a vague description and conglomeration of adjectives towards a systematized and coherent assessment of tangible and intangible aspects of resilience building?

- How to address current gaps in psychological resilience research to include an examination of multi-disciplinary studies that examines dynamics of resilience across the lifespan and effectiveness of the different measures of resilience and programs? In is suggested that we should draw out the generic theory and transferable theory and then apply to our problem sets. For example psychology and emotions are a gap in disasters and so we would do well to extend analysis into this realm but we should be wary of trying to build a comprehensive theory of resilience. It is therefore necessary to draw out common lines and then explore how these have been conceptualised in the problem contexts of psychology, resource management etc. There are already some useful points where work in one area shows gaps in another and these should be strongly emphasised in developing the analytical framework for the case study work.

- How cultural-specific is resilience? This includes organizational culture as well as ‘national’ culture? 
- How can we clarify a definition from various perspectives of resilience in order to inform research, policy, and practice? Empirical research suggests that recovery or growth is different from resilience. Should EmBrace consider these pathways in its analysis?

- Is disaster preparedness both a direct predictor of resilience and a mediator between the aforementioned psychological variables (e.g., personality) and a resilient outcome?

Go to the full documents below

Source 2: Thomas Abeling and Nazmul Huq 24 March 2015. Final Update of the Literature. Deliverable 1.4. Work Package 1.

Introduction to the final update of the literature

This document presents a final update of literature on resilience that relates to work in the emBRACE project. It identifies studies through a non-systematic literature re-view. The goal of this study is to provide a review of theoretical approaches (frameworks, concepts etc.) of resilience, with a particular focus on the three main elements of emBRACE’s own resilience framework: resources/capacities, actions, and learning. Del. 1.4 seeks to discuss if and how recent contributions to the literature address these aspects of community resilience, what their general argument on resilience is (e.g. is resilience only going “half the way”, do we need other concepts such as trans-formation?), and what they suggest as further research opportunities and next steps.

This thematic focus offers to take a reflective perspective on the emBRACE frame-work. It uses the framework as a lens for an evaluation of alternative and new resili-ence concepts in the literature. This allows situating the framework within existing literature on community resilience. It draws out similarities and differences between the emBRACE framework and other resilience concepts and theories, facilitating an informed discussion of the added value of the framework to current knowledge on resilience, but also on its gaps and challenges. This focus of Del.1.4 takes up the recently finalized emBRACE framework Del. 6.6 (Synthesis Report on Revised Framework - December 2014), which was informed by existing theories, but devel-oped in a grounded manner through the case studies.

The previous two deliverables Del. 1.2 (“Systematization of Different Concepts, Qual-ity Criteria, and Indicators” – July 2012) and Del. 1.3 (“Interim Update of the Litera-ture” – July 2014) in Work Package (WP) 1 focused on indicators and metrics of resil-ience, while Del. 1.1 (“Early Discussion and Gap Analysis on Resilience” – April 2012) of the WP explored different concepts and theories of resilience. A conceptual focus on resilience theories in Del. 1.4 relates to the thematic focus of the first Deliv-erable in the WP, but takes into account the project’s own theoretical framework. The emBRACE framework will serve as a lens through which existing studies are evalu-ated. This provides consistency with previous work in the WP and the wider project.

Literature discussed in this document relates to and might overlap with studies re-viewed in Del. 1.3. The discussion of indicators and metrics of resilience in Del. 1.3 inherently relates to conceptual frameworks and theories of resilience, as operation-alizations of resilience are routinely developed based on conceptual models. For example, the urban resilience framework of Tyler & Moench (2012), Norris' et al. (2008) influential contribution on community resilience or the critical reflection on the resili-ence discourse by Welsh (2014) have already been reviewed in the previous Del. 1.3.
Papers that were already discussed in previous deliverables will not be reiterated in detail in this document. They might be referenced, however, or examined from a dif-ferent perspective where necessary. The intention is to avoid duplication and repro-duction of arguments within previous Deliverables in the Work Package. Rather, a focus is put in this document on literature that has not been discussed in previous emBRACE literature reviews. This allows the literature review to add to, rather than replicate findings from other Deliverables. However, it also means that influential studies might not be considered in this review despite their relevance to the themes and discourses discussed here. For example, the review of resilience concepts and frameworks in section 3 does not consider prominent contributions such as the Dis-aster Resilience of Place (DROP) model (Cutter et al. 2008) or similarly important contributions. The review should thus not be interpreted as a comprehensive over-view about existing resilience frameworks and theories. It is rather a specific collec-tion of recent (2012-2015) contributions that so far have not been discussed in the literature reviews of emBRACE, and which offer insights into how the emBRACE resilience framework sits within the wider academic discourse. Particular attention is given to peer-reviewed studies from academic journals in order to strengthen the focus on conceptual and theoretical models, and to avoid a mixture with normative or policy-driven resilience conceptualizations.

The remainder of this document is structured in four sections. The next section will briefly highlight the key features of the Del. 6.6 Agreed Framework, as well as some recent iterations of the emBRACE framework figure (“final framework”). The third section discusses resilience theories and concepts, with a particular focus on com-munity resources/capacities, community actions, and community learning. The fourth section reflects on critiques of the resilience concept, and on alternatives to resilience proposed in the literature. The fifth section synthesizes the key findings from the lit-erature review and reflects on its implications for the emBRACE framework.

Conclusion to the update

This deliverable aimed at discussing if and how recent contributions to the literature address these aspects of community resilience, and what critiques and alternative approaches to the study of resilience they bring forward. The thematic focus of this deliverable sought to take a reflective perspective on the emBRACE framework by using it as a lens for an evaluation of alternative and new resilience concepts in the literature. This allowed situating the framework within exist-ing literature on community resilience, and highlighted similarities and differences between the emBRACE framework and other resilience theories. This deliverable was the last one of emBRACE Work Package 1.

Go to the full documents below