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Between resilience and adaptation: a historical framework for understanding stability and transformation of societies to shocks and stress

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Izdebski,  Adam
Palaeo-Science and History, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Haldon, J., Binois-Roman, A., Eisenberg, M., Izdebski, A., Mordechai, L., Newfield, T., et al. (2021). Between resilience and adaptation: a historical framework for understanding stability and transformation of societies to shocks and stress. In I. Linkov, J. M. Keenan, & B. D. Trump (Eds.), COVID-19: Systemic Risk and Resilience (1st, pp. 235-268). Cham: Springer.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-80EF-A
Abstract
How environmental stress affected past societies is an area of increasing relevance for contemporary planning and policy concerns. The paper below examines a series of case studies that demonstrate that short-term strategies that sustain a state or a specific bundle of vested interests did not necessarily promote longer-term societal resilience and often increased structural pressures leading to systemic crisis. Some societies or states possessed sufficient structural flexibility to overcome very serious short-term challenges without further exacerbating existing inequalities. But even where efforts were made consciously to assist the entire community the outcome often generated unpredictable changes with negative longer-term impacts. Greater degrees of baseline socio-economic inequality at the outset of a crisis are associated with less resilience in the system as a whole, a more uneven distribution of the resilience burden, and an increased risk of post-solution breakdown of a given social order. The historical case studies therefore indicate that future policy planners must consider structural socio-economic imbalances when designing and implementing responses to environmental challenges.