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

Derek Armitage, Chris Béné, Anthony T. Charles, Derek Johnson, Edward H. Allison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

200 Citations (Scopus)


Ecology and SocietyEcology and Society
Home|Past issues|About|Sign In|Submissions|Subscribe|Contact|Search
E&S HOME > VOL. 17, NO. 4 > Art. 15
Copyright © 2012 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance.
Go to the pdf version of this article
The following is the established format for referencing this article:
Armitage, D., C. Béné, A. T. Charles, D. Johnson, and E. H. Allison. 2012. The interplay of well-being and resilience in applying a social-ecological perspective. Ecology and Society 17(4): 15.
The Interplay of Well-being and Resilience in Applying a Social-Ecological Perspective
Derek Armitage 1, Chris Béné 2, Anthony T. Charles 3, Derek Johnson 4 and Edward H. Allison 5
1University of Waterloo, 2IDS Sussex, 3Saint Mary's University, 4University of Manitoba, 5The WorldFish Center and the University of East Anglia
Overview of resilience and well-being concepts
Resilience thinking
A social conception of well-being
Interplay of resilience and well-being concepts
Challenge to optimization thinking
Agency, values, and normative considerations
Considering scale through social and ecological frames
Insights on "controlling" variables
Thresholds and boundaries
Synthesis: implications of the interplay of well-being and resilience
Literature cited
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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Cite this