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Measuring resilience: methodological and political challenges of a trend security concept

Timothy Prior and Jonas Hagmann

Journal of Risk Research, 2014, vol. 17, issue 3, 281-298

Abstract: Modern societies are characterised by global connectedness and complexity. At the same time society, and the various infrastructures that connect and define it, are understood to be increasingly threatened by unpredictable and uncertain (or unknown) global risks. With this, the conceptualisation and development of resilience has become a dominant, yet enigmatic preoccupation: dominant because it is seen as a fundamental component of devolved proactive approaches to mitigating complex threats whatever their nature; and enigmatic because its practical application is as diverse as its definitions. Today, however, a significant challenge still lies in the accurate characterisation and quantification of resilience, and thus also the ability to provide a systematic basis for policy-making in resilience-based threat mitigation. This article examines the methodological challenges of operationalising resilience. It draws on several cases that detail ways of measuring resilience, reflecting on the development, benefits and limitations of these and highlighting important considerations pertinent in the construction of resilience indices. Doing so, however, the article also maintains that resilience should not be reduced to a methodological problem only, given that the methodological operationalisation of resilience also connects with analytical ideas of what and whose kind of responsibility should be measured and political conceptions of who assumes what tasks and responsibility in a resilience framework.

Date: 2014
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