Magis K.. 2010. Community resilience: an indicator of sustainability.. Society and Natural Resources..


Presents a theoretically and empirically based definition of community resilience, and introduces a Community Resilience Self Assessment measurement instrument.

Geographic Focus: 


Key Findings: 

Rather than a predictable return to a particular system state (stasis), resilience implies change through adaptation and transformation enabling systems to persist. Communities develop resilience by actively exploring opportunities to increase capacity for thriving in an environment of change and uncertainty. Community resilience itself is also a reliable indicator of social sustainability. Paradigmatic shifts in resilience understandings are presented. In this regard, the author articulates three possible responses by systems to disturbance, which may vary between maintenance, adaptation and transformation. This, again, identifies the dynamic nature of resilience in describing responses through change and transformation, which can be necessary for the systems survival. To assist with the transition of theoretical concepts of community resilience into praxis, this article and the associated research identifies actionable, observable and measurable elements. This is presented through eight community resilience dimensions and associated metrics. The dimensions and metrics require testing to determine their capacity to predict and reveal levels of resilience. Testing within communities will also contribute information and insight that may inform policy and practice.


For adaptive learning, this article points out that systems resilience response can be through three broad mechanisms: maintenance, adaptation and transformation. Therefore, different responses may be valid in various circumstances. The responses can be likened in some aspects to organisational loop learning, where learning may be focused on routine response within defined structures and processes or where assumptions begin to be challenged at deeper levels. This article also represents an expanding body of literature that is attempting to define metrics for social-ecological resilience. This presents a challenge for researchers and practitioners in the sustainability science’s who are seeking to understand and implement adaptive learning processes.