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Social Attractors: A Proposal to Enhance “Resilience Thinking” about the Social

New paper by Ken Hatt provides critical social science perspective on resilience 

I really enjoyed reading Ken Hatt’s new paper published online in Society and Natural Resources. He makes some really interesting points about functionalism and I found this a good summary of the concerns which many social scientists have about extension of resilience thinking to ‘social systems’.  The paper speaks to common critiques about lack of attention to issues of power in resilience thinking. The paper makes an important point about the anachronism of resilience approaches often adopting a more dynamic adaptive and multi-equilibria view of ecological aspects but a much more static and stability centred – and deterministic – view of social aspects is well made.  I have discussed how different conceptions of agency in particular could inform resilience and environmental change in my recent Annual Review of Environment and Resources paper. So the need for a more dynamic view of social relations and how they shape, mediate and define Social Ecological Systems and the multiple objectives they represent is necessary. The part of the paper I found most useful is the explanation of how a critical realist perspective supports this understanding and is compatible with resilience thinking.

Reading this paper has helped me to think through some of the issues I am writing about in my book – in particular to think about a critical realist take on transformation. I am currently grappling with how peoples’ narratives equate resilience with resistance and how we can understand both in a dynamic and creative sense….You can access the paper here

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