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Atkinson, C.L. Research Trends in Resilience and Vulnerability Studies. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 13 April 2024).
Atkinson CL. Research Trends in Resilience and Vulnerability Studies. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 13, 2024.
Atkinson, Christopher L.. "Research Trends in Resilience and Vulnerability Studies" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 13, 2024).
Atkinson, C.L. (2023, October 11). Research Trends in Resilience and Vulnerability Studies. In Encyclopedia.
Atkinson, Christopher L.. "Research Trends in Resilience and Vulnerability Studies." Encyclopedia. Web. 11 October, 2023.
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Research Trends in Resilience and Vulnerability Studies

While the definition of resilience is disputed or even fuzzy, due in no small part to the diversity of its applications, the concept generally involves the ability to withstand and bounce back from shocks; vulnerability as a related concept involves the tendency to suffer from shocks, given existing characteristics that may prevent resilient responses. Vulnerabilities put individuals, groups, and societies at greater risk and disadvantage, suggesting a need not only for disaster response and recovery, but mitigation and preparedness. Resilience and vulnerability research has recently focused on the role of government, the COVID-19 pandemic, and flood hazards; topics of interest have also included resilience of rural and urban areas, development and sustainability, and displacement and migration.

resilience disaster management vulnerability climate change rural areas floods literature reviews sustainability
Topics of disaster risk reduction and resilience have perhaps never been more in focus in popular understanding. This is likely due to the global effect of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, but also because of the increasing impact upon human life of hazards, natural and technological, and the clear and present dangers posed by climate change. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, related to other global accords on sustainability and climate change, plainly connects risk reduction and the building of resilience [1]. This framework ties the impacts of disaster to the need for resilience and poverty eradication, and includes educational, social, health, and economic resilience among the forms of resilience to be supported [1].
Definitions and applications of resilience abound. The diversity of definitions may be seen as either a strength or a weakness depending on one’s perspective—in one sense the concept is a strong one because it could be applied in a variety of settings, but potentially weak because it seems to resist consistent definition across fields. Dovers called resilience ill-defined and noted its complexity in influential actors and variables [2]. Resilience can fail in implementation when it attempts to apply broad pronouncements or one-size-fits-all remedies when involvement of local knowledge, governance, and context is key [3].
Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, discussions of societal vulnerability and resilience, ever timely, seem especially so now. Managing in the realm of crisis and emergency is a primary role of government [4]. The problem of addressing societal risks is especially salient; humankind’s ability to respond proactively to threats is relevant beyond a single emergency. To this point, Melo and Oliveira Guimarães observed that “the construction of resilient societies, which includes everything from awareness of the environmental crisis to the reduction of social inequalities, is the one that emerges as a necessary learning process to make the future of humanity viable” [5].
This entry examines recent trends in resilience and vulnerability research, focusing on peer-reviewed journal articles mentioning resilience, vulnerability, disaster management, public policy, preparedness, and mitigation—all core principles associated with resilience and allowing an intensive approach to what is a rapidly expanding literature. The trends are derived from a targeted review of literature, as described in Supplementary Materials. Resilience is considered in the literature from a variety of perspectives—societal, institutional, and personal—that interact with one another in complex ways. Societal crises tend to provide for focusing events that demand action from institutions, but also have significant impacts upon people; the problem of resilience is multifarious. This entry begins with a discussion of resilience and the role of government in emergencies. Sections on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and literature with emphasis on flood hazards follow. The entry continues with sections on rural areas, urban areas, development and sustainability, and displacement and migration, and how they relate to resilience. The entry concludes with a consideration of these contributions and opportunities for future research.


  1. United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030. 2015. Available online: (accessed on 12 June 2023).
  2. Dovers, S.; Crosweller, M.; Glasser, R.; Macfarlane, K.; Psm, N.P.; Scott, L.; Webb, R. Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction, Seriously? Aust. J. Emerg. Manag. 2022, 37, 20–28.
  3. Adger, W.N. Vulnerability. Glob. Environ. Chang. 2006, 16, 268–281.
  4. Waugh, W.L., Jr. Living with Hazards, Dealing with Disasters: An Introduction to Emergency Management; M. E. Sharpe: Armonk, NY, USA, 2000.
  5. Melo, T.; Oliveira Guimarães, L. Risk and disaster management and social inequalities: The experience of Brumadinho after the Córrego of Feijão dam failure and the COVID-19 pandemic. RGSA Revista Gestão Social Ambiental 2022, 16, e02880.
Subjects: Urban Studies
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