4 Responses to Resilience: Why all the hype?

  1. Theodore Denno says:

    On its face the term “resilience” as here used seeks a return to the last place we’d care to go, the status quo.

    • Jenn Cisse says:

      I agree that this is a risk, although the concept has the potential to push us toward investments that positively impact well-being both sustainably and in the face of shocks. Only when the community reaches consensus on measurement, however, will this potential be realized. The second post in this series will go into detail on one such measurement approach. Stay tuned!

  2. Neal Denno says:

    I have two thoughts after having read your post. Note that I’m neither familiar with your specific topic nor with the literature around it.

    (1) Resilience, based on your description, seems to suffer from inconsistent definition among users of the term. It reminds me of the term “sustainable” which has many definitions as users. Providing some metrics of resilience would potentially narrow the range of definition of resilience PROVIDED that other users of the term accept the metrics. Rejection of the metrics because they are insufficiently encompassing of the range of definitions of resilience is a possible outcome that (a) you need to consider and (b) may result in wholesale rejection of the metrics. If your intention is to craft a set of metrics that address the range of definitions of resilience you need to consider the risk of dilution of their effectiveness because of the breadth of definition. If your intention is to accept and develop metrics for a more narrowly defined resilience, you may want to focus on a subset of resilience such as “bounce-back” resilience (return to previous status quo) as opposed to “progressive” resilience (surpass previous status quo).

    (2) My second thought is really a question. Is your intention to develop a smorgasbord of metrics from which an agency, group, or individual might choose to measure change in which they are particularly interested or is your intention to develop one set of metrics that a the “meta” level define resilience and in the application provide a measure of relative resilience against a scale you establish with the metrics?

    Topic sounds really interesting and with many, many potential applications.

  3. The massive, near-frenetic embrace of “resilience” (and I’m speaking here of in the social services, not international development, though clearly the enthusiasm for the subject overflows in this arena, as well)is curious to me, but not unexpected. The goal of the resilience-lovers seems to boil down to, “We will make you stronger so that these assaults–most of which are caused by structural factors–can keep coming.”
    So individuals (and their families) are given these tools, and then, when they crumble under these assaults (e.g., systemic poverty, racism and other forms of discrimination and harm, poor access to nutrition, horrendous education, and related inequities)–they are then, to blame. Were the tools faulty? Perhaps not. Were the forces they sought to counter overwhelming? Likely so.

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