Short Description

The purpose of this article is to review existing knowledge on analytical approaches to vulnerability to environmental change in order to propose synergies between research on vulnerability and on resilience of social-ecological systems. The concept of vulnerability has been a powerful analytical tool for describing states of susceptibility to harm, powerlessness, and marginality of both physical and social systems, and for guiding normative analysis of actions to enhance well-being through reduction of risk. In this article, I argue that emerging insights into the resilience of social-ecological systems complement and can significantly add to a converging research agenda on the challenges faced by human environment interactions under stresses caused by global environmental and social change.

I review the precursors and the present emphases of vulnerability research. I argue that, following decades of vulnerability assessment that distinguished between process and outcome, much exciting current research emphasizes multiple stressors and multiple pathways of vulnerability. This current research can potentially contribute to emerging resilience science through methods and conceptualization of the stresses and processes that lead to threshold changes, particularly those involved in the social and institutional dynamics of social-ecological systems.

Format and Retrieval

This article can be viewed in html and downloaded as PDF through ScienceDirect. 

Suggested Citation

W. Neil Adger, Vulnerability, Global Environmental Change, Volume 16, Issue 3, August 2006, Pages 268-281, ISSN 0959-3780,