Enhancing the resilience of human-environment systems: A social ecological perspective

Daniel Stokols, Raul Perez Lejano, John Hipp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Resilience studies build on the notion that phenomena in the real world should be understood as dynamic social- ecological systems. However, the scholarly community may not be fully aware that social ecology, as a conceptual framework, has a long intellectual history, nor fully cognizant of its foundational theory. In this article, we trace the intellectual roots and core principles of social ecology and demonstrate how these principles enable a broader conceptualization of resilience than may be found in much of the literature. We then illustrate how the resulting notion of resilience as transactional process and multi-capital formation affords new perspectives on diverse phenomena such as global financial crises and adaptation to environmental stresses to communities and ecosystems. A social-ecological analysis of resilience enables the study of people- environment transactions across varying dimensions, time periods, and scales. Furthermore, in its openness to experiential knowledge and action research, the social ecology framework coheres well with participative-collaborative modes of inquiry, which traverse institutional, epistemological, and scale-related boundaries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013


  • Environment-behavior transactions
  • Resilience
  • Social capital
  • Social ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology


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