Early psychological discourse on resilience defined the phenomenon largely as an individual trait or set of behaviours, common to especially “resilient” individuals (Garmezy; Rutter; Werner). In contrast, we argue that this standard definition of resilience is ultimately inadequate to account for the range of complex (and common) sociocultural dimensions of resilience and contextualised practices of resilience in people’s everyday lives. The word “resilience” has now become synonymous with a community’s ability to respond to human induced climate change. While undoubtably an important element in contemporary society, we also aim to interrogate the concept beyond the environmental and consider resilience in different social, cultural and political contexts.

Rather than establishing an oppositional binary of “individual” and “social”, this issue of M/C Journal focuses on the dialogical interaction between the individual and the social, so crucial to the formation, accumulation and preservation of resilience. Although the conceptual emphasis of the psychological sciences has been geared towards resilience as an individual phenomenon, it is important to note that this work has provided academics and popular authors with a provocative term in resilience.

Lubchenco highlighted at once simplicity and complexity embedded within the resilience concept, commenting, “Resilience holds the key to our future. It is a deceptively simple idea, but its application has proven elusive” (cited in Walker & Salt). In a related discussion, Ungar asked, “Why keep the term resilience?”

Terms like resilience, even strength, empowerment and health, are a counterpoint to notions of disease and disorder that have made us look at people as glasses half empty rather than half full. Resilience reminds us that children survive and thrive in a myriad of ways, and that understanding the etiology of health is as, or more, important than studying the etiology of disease. (Ungar 91).

In this issue we are seeking contributions which challenge, augment and productively reposition deficit-based models of resilience in individuals, groups or systems as well as associated “vulnerable”, “disordered” and “at risk” vocabularies. We are seeking contributions which critically engage with the theme ‘resilient’ at a variety of social scales, be it at the level of the individual, family, community, society, nation or system.

Areas for consideration include:

  • Contextualised examples of resilience in the lives of refugees and other war-affected groups.
  • Everyday examples of resilience in people’s domestic spaces.
  • The formation of resilience ‘from a distance’, such as in the lives of diasporic or transnational communities.
  • Commentary on the ‘positive psychology’ movement and its impact of pedagogy.
  • Auto-ethnographies of resilience.
  • Analysis of resilience-related concepts such as hope, affect, belonging, resistance and resourcefulness as well as interactions between them.

And questions such as:

  • Is resilience too narrow a concept to describe and explain the multiple capacities, strategies and resources required to survive and thrive in today’s world?
  • Is resilience merely the ability to cope with and adapt to adversity? Does it also contain a ‘future-orientated’ dimension?
  • In what ways do individuals, groups and systems accumulate resilience?
  • Is resilience a form of social capital which can be accumulated, exchanged or transferred?

Prospective contributors should email an abstract of 100-250 words and a brief biography to the issue editors. Abstracts should include the article title and should describe your research question, approach, and argument. Biographies should be about three sentences (maximum 75 words) and should include your institutional affiliation and research interests. Articles should be 3000 words (plus bibliography). All articles will be refereed and must adhere to MLA style (6th edition).


  • Article deadline: 16 Aug. 2013
  • Release date: 16 Oct. 2013
  • Editors: Michael Wilson and James Avanatakis

Please submit articles through this Website. Send any enquiries to resilient@journal.media-culture.org.au.