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Resilience, Panarchy, and World-Systems Analysis

Nicholas M. Gotts, Macaulay Land Use Research Institute


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The paper compares two ambitious conceptual structures. The first is the
understanding of social-ecological systems developed around the term
"resilience," and more recently the term "panarchy," in the work of
Holling, Gunderson, and others. The second is Wallerstein's "world-systems" approach to analyzing hierarchical relationships between societies
within global capitalism as developed and applied across a broader
historical range by Chase-Dunn and others. The two structures have
important common features, notably their multiscale explanatory
framework, links with ideas concerning complex systems, and interest
in cyclical phenomena. They also have important differences. It is argued
that there are gaps in both sets of ideas that the other might remedy.
Their greatest strengths lie at different spatiotemporal scales and
in different disciplinary areas, but each also has weaknesses the
other does not address, particularly with regard to the mechanisms
underlying proposed cyclic patterns of events. The paper ends with a
sketch for a research program within which panarchical and
world-systems insights might be synthesised in the study of the "Great
European Land-Grab," i.e., the expansion of European capitalism and its
distinctive social-ecological systems over the past five centuries.

Key words

adaptive cycle; cross-scale interaction; panarchy; population; resilience; technology; world-systems.

Copyright © 2007 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087