Social dimensions of resilience in social-ecological systems

Resilience is generally considered the capacity to tolerate, absorb, cope with, and adjust to changing social or environmental conditions while retaining key elements of structure, function, and identity. The social dimensions of resilience are vital to understanding the impacts of environmental changes, such as climate change, on social-ecological systems. In this Primer, we introduce key social factors that provide resilience in linked social-ecological systems, including (1) assets, (2) flexibility, (3) social organization, (4) learning, (5) socio-cognitive constructs, and (6) agency. Emerging frontiers of resilience include applying social-ecological network approaches, investigating power relations, and exploring how transformative versus adaptive changes can promote resilience. A further understanding of the social dimensions of social-ecological systems can provide valuable information on how these systems may respond to change and equip us with the knowledge to support or build resilience in vulnerable systems.