Special Feature in the Journal “Ecology and Society”

TARGETED JOURNAL: Ecology and Society


Exploring social-ecological resilience through the lens of the social sciences: towards a critical reflection and constructive debate


‘Social-ecological resilience’ was first coined by ecologists in the 1970s and has since gained tremendous currency in both academic and applied fields. Over the past decade alone, its usage and application by scientists, policy-makers, business leaders, NGOs and other practitioners has skyrocketed and is expanding. The concept has strong roots in the ecological sciences and, more recently, have been taken up by inter- and trans- disciplinary studies.  By contrast, it has received relatively little attention from the social science disciplines, with a few exceptions. A stronger and more nuanced engagement with social science theories, concepts, research methods, and empirical data is critical if social-ecological resilience is to be robust as a theoretical construct, useful in informing effective and appropriate management tools and approaches, and contribute to positive outcomes for both ecosystems and the people that inhabit them.

The objective of this Special Feature is to initiate a constructive debate and dialogue among social scientists (from a wide range of disciplines including sociology, anthropology, economics, human geography, political sciences and psychology) and social-ecological resilience researchers and practitioners. Drawing on diverse bodies of social science theory and literature, the papers presented in this Special Feature provide a critical reflection on the key concepts underpinning social-ecological resilience thinking and application. These include understandings of social systems, social change, human-environment relationships, and concepts such as ‘resilience’, ‘perturbation’, ‘undesirable states’ and ‘stability’.


  1. Dec. 1, 2012 – Submission of Special Feature proposal (proposal abstract and, for each paper, titles, authors, and abstracts) to Ecology and Society
  2. End of May 2013 – (if Special Feature proposal is accepted) submission of individual papers to Ecology and Society

If you are interested in writing a paper as part of this Special Feature, please send  a title, abstract and list of potential co-authors to by Nov 5, 2012.


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