Socio-Technical Resilience – from Panarchy to Boundary Object: the Journey so far….

Stephen Healy

School of Humanities and Languages, University of New South Wales, Australia

Socio-technical regimes shape social-ecological systems in positive and negative ways. Sociotechnical regimes are constituted by a form of resilience that is formally congruent with this same dynamic property in social-ecological systems. However, the contrasting normative and substantive context of technology means that the implications of resilience may contrast strongly between these areas. Researchers must reflect on what precisely it is that is being made resilient, in the face of which specific dynamics, for whom and by what criteria this is good or bad, and whether such resilience is consequently problematic or not. (Smith & Stirling, 2010)

…to develop resilience in Singapore…. a diversity of both formal and informal institutions and a diversity of governance approaches, with elements of redundancy, helps bolster resilience (Leon & Kwan, 2012)

While the profile of resilience proceeds apace, driven by both its relevance to emergent problems such as climate change and political appeal, questions remain regarding its fundamental character. Foundational tensions with social theory resulting from its origin in systems ecology complicate socio-technical resilience beyond the way its amalgamation of the social and technical repudiate traditional knowledge precepts. This paper reviews the recent literature regarding such tensions and evaluates how they have been addressed to discern best practice. It finds that prevalent emphases upon systemic characterisations of resilience are best complemented by the situated perspectives granted through analysis of the socio-technical assemblages of interest. A Singaporean case study, a complementary discussion of the conduct of socio-technical resilience assessment and an emphasis on the requirement for diverse and flexible governance are used by way of illustration.

Smith, A., & A. Stirling. (2010). The Politics of Social-Ecological Resilience and Sustainable Socio-Technical Transitions. Ecology and Society 15(1): 11. Accessed 23/2/16:

Leong, L., & Kwan, T.B., (2012), ‘Developing Resilience in Singapore’, Civil Service College, Singapore, accessed 5/2/16 at:

1. Katrina Petersen
2. Charlotte Cabasse