Subjective resilience: using perceptions to quantify household resilience to climate extremes and disasters

Journal articles or issues
June 2016

Resilience has rapidly risen to the top of the development agenda. The term is seen by development actors as a valuable conceptual tool in understanding how people respond and adapt to the many changing shocks and stresses that affect livelihood outcomes. Inevitably, a push for resilience-building within the development and humanitarian communities has led to increased demand for ways of measuring levels of resilience amongst people and communities.

The efforts to measure resilience have largely focused on the use of ‘objective’ frameworks and methods of indicator selection. These typically depend on a range of observable socio-economic variables, such as levels of income, the extent of a household’s social capital or its access to social safety nets. Yet, while objective methods have their uses, they suffer from well-documented weaknesses.

This paper advocates the use of an alternative but complementary method: the measurement of ‘subjective’ resilience at the household level.