Adger’s Contribution to Socio-Ecological Resilience Studies: An Annotated Bibliography

Adger’s Contribution to Socio-Ecological Resilience Studies: An Annotated Bibliography

Azher Hameed Qamar (

Adger’s Contribution to Socio-Ecological Resilience Studies: An Annotated Bibliography

Contemporary researchers are investigating resilience beyond an individual’s life and personal traits, to include social network, relationships and various types of social capital. The capacity and quality to sustain and grow is multifaced and ingrained in socio-economic context. In this connection, the concept of social resilience is relatively new, yet significant in investigating community resilience at social and ecological level. William Neil Adger is likely the first author who defined social resilience, exclusively emphasizing its role in socio-ecological sustainability. This blog post includes an annotated bibliography of Adger’s publications that are central to socio-ecological resilience, environmental change, sustainability, and well-being. This contribution may be regarded as a guide to the literature on multiple, multilevel, and interconnected social dimensions of resilience.

In the beginning of 2021, I started working on social resilience in the context of migration. Given the novelty and importance of the concept, I read several definitions of ‘social resilience’ to understand the core attributes of social resilience. It was interesting to see that Adger’s (2000, 2002) definition of social resilience was frequently cited, followed by definitions provided by Keck and Sakdapolrak (2013), Obrist et al. (2010), and Marshall and Marshall (2007). Adger W. Neil is likely the first author to define social resilience as “the ability of the social system to withstand external shocks to the system” (exclusively emphasizing social resilience and its role in sustainability) (1997, p.34). Though Adger’s emphasis on ‘capacity’ or ‘ability’ does not exclusively reflect social resilience as a ‘process’ or a ‘phenomenon’; his contributions are significant to highlight ‘social’ in resilience studies that makes it a complex, multifaceted and dynamic concept.

Adger’s contribution to social resilience theory first appeared in his paper “Sustainability and Social Resilience in Coastal Resource Use” (1997). Since then, 18 of his publications are exclusively focused on resilience in the context of climate change, socio-ecological systems, social vulnerability, and human mobility. This post includes an annotated bibliography of these 18 publications, that are central to socio-ecological resilience, environmental change, sustainability, and well-being. This bibliography provides useful academic sources, particularly focused on social resilience, environmental change, adversities, resources, and community response. The theoretical and empirical work by Adger (author and co-author) on resilience (social resilience, socio-ecological resilience, community resilience) and its various dimensions is included in this annotated bibliography. These entries are restricted to book chapters, working papers, and published articles. While working on my current project on “social resilience and migration” and the recently presented conference paper “Social Dimensions of Resilience and Climate Change: A Rapid Review,” (2022) I compiled this bibliography. The keywords and annotations that follow each bibliographic entry (provided below) give information about the content of the articles. The keywords abbreviations are as under:

· AC — adaptive capacity

· CC — coastal communities

· CR — community resilience

· DC — demographic change

· EC — environmental change

· EG — environmental governance

· ER — ecological resilience

· ES — energy system

· HM — human mobility

· MI — migration impact

· NR — natural resources

· PR — policy response

· RC — relational capital

· RD — resource dependence

· SC — social capital

· SD — sustainable development

· SES — socio-ecological system

· SR — social resilience

· SS — sustainable society

· W — wellbeing

Following are the 18 articles/book chapters authored (and co-authored) by Adger W Neil focussed on social and ecological resilience.

Format: title (citation) keywords. annotation

1 Sustainability and Social Resilience in Coastal Resource use (Adger, 1997) SD, SR, CC, ER, RD, EC. The working paper emphasizes social resilience and sustainable development, documenting the resilience of social and natural systems. The author discussed the limitations of the economic value approach and the effects of environmental changes on social resilience while taking into account the diversity of coastal resources and resilient ecosystem.

2 Social and Ecological Resilience: Are They Related? (Adger, 2000) EC, RD, ER, SR, CR, CC. In this article, social resilience is defined and linked to ecological resilience. The author emphasized the significance and value of socio-ecological resilience to cope with environmental changes while examining the resilience of resource-dependent communities (in coastal Vietnam) in challenging social and economic situations.

3 Population, Adaptation and Resilience (Adger and O’Riordan, 2000) SS, EC, RD, CR, AC. The topics of environmental change in relation to population growth, resources, food security, and resilience are covered in this book chapter. The population crisis (in the context of environmental change), as well as social, political, and economic factors of vulnerability and resilience, are spotlighted by the authors.

4 Migration, Remittances, Livelihood Trajectories, and Social Resilience (Adger et al., 2002) HM, SR, DC, MI. Mobility and migration bring a demographic change that has social and economic impact. The authors discuss the interconnected social and environmental factors that explain remittances as a transfer of resources between migrants and (remittance) receiving areas. The article offers a unique perspective on social resilience in the context of livelihood strategies and the use of remittance resources.

5 Mangrove Conservation and Restoration for Enhanced Resilience (Tri, Hong, Adger and Kelly, 2002) CC, EC, ER, RD. This book chapter examines environmental change, resource dependency, and the cost and benefit of restorations while providing an economic analysis of mangrove restoration in coastal Vietnam. The authors argue that a cost-benefit analysis of mangrove restoration and ecological resilience should emphasize a present-focused and future-oriented approach.

6 Governing Natural Resources: Institutional Adaptation and Resilience. (Adger, 2003) EC, CR, SR, EG, NR, AC. In this book chapter, Adger discusses social resilience and its relationship with natural resources in terms of growth, management, and equity. The emphasis on natural resource governance provides a framework for theorizing resilience and shared understanding of ecological risk, environmental change, and decision making.

7 Does Adaptive Management of Natural Resources Enhance Resilience to Climate Change? (Tompkins and Adger, 2004) EC, NR, CR, ER, RD, AC. This article demonstrates the significance of social learning as it occurs in resource-dependent communities in response to climate change. The authors use the example of Trinidad and Tobago coastal communities to conclude that the expansion of social networks and collective action is negatively related to reduced vulnerability and positively related to social and ecological resilience.

8 Social-Ecological Resilience to Coastal Disasters. (Adger et al., 2005) CC, ER, SR, EC, SC. The authors, drawing on research on climate change, severe weather, and resilience in coastal zones, discuss the transformation of resilient systems to withstand climatic crisis. The article provides empirical data on predicting climatic disasters and possible coping strategies, such as social capital mobilization. The authors developed a case for extending socio-ecological resilience to various levels of social capital.

9 Adaptation to Environmental Change: Contributions of a Resilience Framework (Nelson, Adger and Brown, 2007) EG, SR, ER, SC, EC, AC. In order to conceptualize vulnerability, resilience, adaptation, and transformation, this article offers valuable information. The authors discuss socio-ecological resilience and the resilience system and adaptation process in relation to climate change. Authors explain the sources of resilience and the dynamic adaptation process using examples from various social-ecological systems.

10 Vulnerability and Resilience to Environmental Change: Ecological and Social Perspectives (Adger and Brown, 2009) EC, SR, ER, CR. The authors begin by outlining the characteristics of vulnerability before highlighting the various social and environmental contexts of vulnerability and its consequent impact. With reference to human action and ecological change, the impact of ecological change on society, and socio-ecological resilience, this book chapter offers an insight into the interaction between ecological system and society.

11 Resilience Implications of Policy Responses to Climate Change (Adger et al., 2011) EC, ER, PR, EG, AC. This article provides a critical evaluation of climate change response strategies and their potential to increase or decrease long-term resilience. Authors define resilience as ability or capacity to absorb disruption and maintain a functional system through adaptation within the system resources. The authors emphasize the importance of recognizing and identifying multiple sources of resilience as well as enhanced adaptive and learning capacities.

12 Social Vulnerability and Resilience (Adger and Kelly, 2012) SR, EC, SC, AC. This book chapter provides a conceptual framework for investigating social vulnerability and resilience in the context of environmental change in the Vietnamese socio-ecological context. Several socioeconomic factors (such as social capital and social security), according to the authors, contribute to social vulnerability and resilience. In order to examine successful adaptation, resilience and vulnerability must be viewed as interconnected and operating at multiple levels.

13 Limits to Resilience from Livelihood Diversification and Social Capital in Lake Social-Ecological Systems (Goulden, Adger, Allison and Conway, 2013) SC, SR, EC, ER, AC. This article investigates the role and types of social capital in connection to with the diversity of social networks and livelihood sources. The authors use water and land use data (from interviews and surveys) from a lakeshore social-ecological system in Uganda and discuss the household’s adaptive capacity and strategies to face the challenges of climate change at various levels. This article also concludes the importance of recognizing and sustaining multiple sources of resilience in response to livelihood diversification and crisis at various levels.

14 Integrating Social-Ecological Dynamics and Resilience into Energy Systems Research (Hodbod and Adger, 2014) ES, SR, ER, EC, SES. In this article, the authors discuss the challenges associated with the energy system as well as socioeconomic and environmental sustainability. The authors consider socio-ecological resilience in light of changes in the socio-ecological system and the impact of the energy system on resilience at multiple social and environmental levels.

15 Ecological and Social Resilience (Adger and Hodbod, 2014) SR, ER, EC, SD, W, SES. This chapter is a section of a handbook that contains helpful information and knowledge about sustainability and its various dimensions, measurement, and development. In this chapter, the authors focus on resilience in changing environmental conditions and long-term well-being. The ultimate goals of sustainable development should be linked to the resources in the social-ecological system and how these resources are used for both present and future well-being. This chapter provides defining attributes of ecological resilience, socio-ecological system, and sustainable developments, and explains social dimensions of resilience as a key component of a sustainable socio-ecological system.

16 Mobility Endowment and Entitlements Mediate Resilience in Rural Livelihood Systems (Tebboth, Conway and Adger, 2019) HM, AC, SR, EC. This study investigates the impact of mobility decisions on level of resilience in the context of environmental change in rural areas of Anhui Province, China. The authors discover mobility endowments and entitlements as significant determinants of resilience using a mixed method approach and multiple data sources (rural appraisal, biophysical observations, life history interviews, and household survey).

17 Community Resilience and Well-Being: An Exploration of Relationality and Belonging after Disasters (Quinn, Adger, Butler and Walker-Springett, 2020) CR, RC, SC, W. This study examines belongingness and relational capital among flood-affected communities in England with a focus on community resilience and wellbeing. Authors use a mix-method approach to examining collective identity, active belongingness, and relational capital (such as trust and reciprocity) in relation to community resilience and wellbeing. In order to understand community resilience and wellbeing, authors conclude the importance of investigation of social connectedness and relational processes.

18 Social Ecological Dynamics of Catchment Resilience (Adger, Brown, Butler and Quinn, 2021) CR, SES, EC, SR, W. The authors define catchment resilience as a combination of social and ecological resilience among communities living on water, land (river basins), and other ecological sources. The primary goal of this article is to examine the interaction of socio-ecological dynamics, resource use, and its consequences. Authors provide useful information about community resilience, its measurement, and its essential connection with catchment resilience, in addition to providing key features of catchments with reference to socio-ecological systems.

The sources of empirical and theoretical knowledge pertinent to social, ecological, and community resilience are provided in this annotated bibliography. It is clear that the authors consistently emphasize a variety of interconnected resilience-related factors that are ingrained in local social and ecological contexts. Adversity, vulnerability, and the ability to adapt to the crisis have been used to define social resilience as a “ability” or “capacity.” It’s intriguing how the concept of resilience — a response to cope and recover — is grounded in the dynamic structure of the socio-ecological system and the varied impact of crisis at various levels by taking into account a number of aspects of person-environment interaction (such as various forms of social capital, environmental changes, political and social actions, etc.). The concept of social resilience has emerged as a complex interdisciplinary construct that require a theoretical and analytical triangulation and a contextualized interpretation.


Adger, W. N. (1997). Sustainability and social resilience in coastal resource use (pp. 0967–8875). CSERGE.

Adger, W. N. (2000). Social and ecological resilience: are they related?. Progress in human geography, 24(3), 347–364.

Adger, W. N. (2003). Governing natural resources: institutional adaptation and resilience. Negotiating environmental change: new perspectives from social science. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK, 193–208.

Adger, W. N., & Brown, K. (2009). Vulnerability and resilience to environmental change: ecological and social perspectives. A companion to environmental geography, 109–122.

Adger, W. N., & Hodbod, J. (2014). Ecological and social resilience. In Handbook of sustainable development (pp. 91–102). Edward Elgar Publishing.

Adger, W. N., & Kelly, P. M. (2012). Social vulnerability and resilience. In Living with Environmental Change (pp. 41–56). Routledge.

Adger, W. N., Brown, K., Butler, C., & Quinn, T. (2021). Social ecological dynamics of catchment resilience. Water, 13(3), 349.

Adger, W. N., Brown, K., Nelson, D. R., Berkes, F., Eakin, H., Folke, C., … & Tompkins, E. L. (2011). Resilience implications of policy responses to climate change. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 2(5), 757–766.

Adger, W. N., Hughes, T. P., Folke, C., Carpenter, S. R., & Rockstrom, J. (2005). Social-ecological resilience to coastal disasters. Science, 309(5737), 1036–1039.

Adger, W. N., Kelly, P. M., Winkels, A., Huy, L. Q., & Locke, C. (2002). Migration, remittances, livelihood trajectories, and social resilience. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, 31(4), 358–366.

Adger, WN., & O’Riordan, T. (2000). Population, adaptation and resilience. In T. O’Riordan (Ed.), Environmental Science for Environmental Management (pp. 149–170). Longman.

Brown, K. and Westaway, E. (2011). Agency, Capacity, and Resilience to Environmental Change: Lessons From Human Development, Well-Being, and Disasters. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 36: 321–342. doi:10.1146/annurev-environ-052610–092905

Goulden, M. C., Adger, W. N., Allison, E. H., & Conway, D. (2013). Limits to resilience from livelihood diversification and social capital in lake social–ecological systems. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 103(4), 906–924.

Herrman, H., Stewart, D. E., Diaz-Granados, N., Berger, E. L., Jackson, B., & Yuen, T. (2011). What is resilience?. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 56(5), 258–265.

Hodbod, J., & Adger, W. N. (2014). Integrating social-ecological dynamics and resilience into energy systems research. Energy Research & Social Science, 1, 226–231.

Keck, M., & Sakdapolrak, P. (2013). What is social resilience? Lessons learned and ways forward. Erdkunde, 5–19.

Marshall, N. A., & Marshall, P. A. (2007). Conceptualizing and operationalizing social resilience within commercial fisheries in northern Australia. Ecology and society, 12(1).

Nelson, D. R., Adger, W. N., & Brown, K. (2007). Adaptation to environmental change: contributions of a resilience framework. Annual review of Environment and Resources, 32(1), 395–419.

Obrist, B., Pfeiffer, C., & Henley, R. (2010). Multi‐layered social resilience: A new approach in mitigation research. Progress in Development Studies, 10(4), 283–293.

Quinn, T., Adger, W. N., Butler, C., & Walker-Springett, K. (2020). Community resilience and well-being: an exploration of relationality and belonging after disasters. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 111(2), 577–590.

Tebboth, M. G. L., Conway, D., & Adger, W. N. (2019). Mobility endowment and entitlements mediate resilience in rural livelihood systems. Global Environmental Change, 54, 172–183.

Tompkins, E. L., & Adger, W. N. (2004). Does adaptive management of natural resources enhance resilience to climate change?. Ecology and society, 9(2).

Tri, N. H., Hong, P. N., Adger, W. N., & Kelly, P. M. (2002). Mangrove conservation and restoration for enhanced resilience. In Managing for healthy ecosystems (pp. 389–402). CRC Press.