One of the biggest challenges faced today is how to sustainably manage social-ecological systems for both ecological conservation and human wellbeing. This paper explores two approaches to understanding such systems: resilience thinking and political ecology. Resilience thinking is a framework that emerged over the last 40 years as a management strategy for social-ecological systems, and a resilient social-ecological system is capable of absorbing disturbances and still retaining its basic function and structure. Political ecology is derived from cultural ecology and political economy and aims to critically examine how human-environment interactions are linked to environmental problems while exploring issues of power. Drawing from debates and theoretical issues both within and between these two theories, this paper proposes three main arguments for integrating political ecology into managing for resilience. First, political ecology could help fill in understanding gaps in resilience with its focus on society and politics, while resilience thinking’s focus on ecology can ensure that political ecology engages with ecology. Second, the multiple lenses of political ecology may help define the system for resilience management. Third, political ecology’s explanatory power may assist in identifying surrogates of resilience for indirectly measuring social-ecological resilience.
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