Resilience: Revisiting the Concept and its Utility for Social Research



Researchers of resilience seek to understand why some people will recover from or avoid negative outcomes against the odds associated with exposure to particular adversities. Over the last two decades the concept of resilience has experienced “burgeoning interest” (Ungar, 2005, p. xvii). However, due to a lack of consistency in defining and measuring this theoretical construct within and across disciplines, the recent explosion of literature on resilience has contributed more to confusion than clarity among researchers and policy makers. In order to clarify the opportunities and pitfalls in store for future research, this paper provides an overview of the historical development of the resilience concept and the different approaches to resilience prominent today. It also addresses the relationship of resilience to the concept of risk. Since the majority of resilience research is concerned with the development of children and adolescents, this review is youth-oriented.


Resilience Risk Protective factor Adaptation Adversity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.CoquitlamCanada

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