Summary: Social and ecological resilience:
are they related?
W. Neil Adger
School of Environmental Sciences and CSERGE, University of East Anglia, Norwich
NR4 7TJ, UK
Abstract: This article defines social resilience as the ability of groups or communities to cope
with external stresses and disturbances as a result of social, political and environmental change.
This definition highlights social resilience in relation to the concept of ecological resilience which
is a characteristic of ecosystems to maintain themselves in the face of disturbance. There is a clear
link between social and ecological resilience, particularly for social groups or communities that
are dependent on ecological and environmental resources for their livelihoods. But it is not clear
whether resilient ecosystems enable resilient communities in such situations. This article
examines whether resilience is a useful characteristic for describing the social and economic
situation of social groups and explores potential links between social resilience and ecological
resilience. The origins of this interdisciplinary study in human ecology, ecological economics
and rural sociology are reviewed, and a study of the impacts of ecological change on a resource-
dependent community in contemporary coastal Vietnam in terms of the resilience of its institu-
tions is outlined.
Key words: cultural geography, ecological resilience, human ecology, resource dependency,