Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change

Resilience isn't the same for all: Comparing subjective and objective approaches to resilience measurement

Journal Article

Robust resilience measurement can improve our understanding of how people and societies respond to climate risk. It also allows for the effectiveness of resilience‐building interventions to be tracked over time. To date, the majority of measurement tools use objective methods of evaluation. Broadly speaking, these relate to approaches that solicit little, if any, judgment on behalf of the subject in question. More recently, subjective methods of evaluation have been proposed. These take a contrasting epistemological view, relying on people's self‐assessments of their own capacity to deal with climate risk. Subjective methods offer some promise in complementing objective methods, including: factoring in people's own knowledge of resilience and what contributes to it; more nuanced contextualization; and the potential to reduce survey length and fatigue. Yet, considerable confusion exists in understanding subjectivity and objectivity. Little is also known about the merits and limitations of different approaches to measurement. Here, I clarify the conceptual and practical relationships between objective and subjective forms of measuring resilience, aiming to provide practical guidance in distinguishing between them. In reviewing existing toolkits, I propose a subjectivity–objectivity continuum that groups measurement approaches according to two core tenets: (a) how resilience is defined and (b) how resilience is evaluated. I then use the continuum to explore the strengths and weaknesses of different types of toolkits, allowing comparison across each. I also emphasize that there is no one‐size fits all approach to resilience measurement. As such, evaluators should carefully consider: their epistemology of resilience; core objectives for measurement; as well as resource and data constraints, before choosing which methods to adopt. This article is categorized under: Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change > Values‐Based Approach to Vulnerability and Adaptation

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