Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

Is resilience a normative concept?

  • Henrik Thorén
  • Lennart Olsson
Publishing year: 2018
Language: English
Pages: 112-128
Publication/Series: Resilience - International Policies, Practices and Discourses
Volume: 6
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Taylor & Francis

Abstract english

In this paper, we engage with the question of the normative content of the resilience concept. The issues are approached in two consecutive steps. First, we proceed from a narrow construal of the resilience concept – as the ability of a system to absorb a disturbance – and show that under an analysis of normative concepts as evaluative concepts resilience comes out as descriptive. In the second part of the paper, we argue that (1) for systems of interest (primarily social systems or system with a social component) we seem to have options with respect to how they are described and (2) that this matters for what is to be taken as a sign of resilience as opposed to a sign of the lack of resilience for such systems. We discuss the implications of this for how the concept should be applied in practice and suggest that users of the resilience concept face a choice between versions of the concept that are either ontologically or normatively charged.


  • Philosophy
  • Resilience
  • normativity
  • concepts


  • ISSN: 2169-3293
Henrik Thorén
E-mail: henrik [dot] thoren [at] fil [dot] lu [dot] se

Visiting research fellow

LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)



Theoretical Philosophy


P.O. Box 170, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden
Phone: +46(0)46- 222 80 81
info [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se