Operationalising resilience in farms and rural regions - Findings from fourteen case studies

Amit Ashkenazy, Tzruya Calvão Chebach*, Karlheinz Knickel, Sarah Peter, Boaz Horowitz, Rivka Offenbach

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


The limited resilience of agricultural and food systems, and of rural communities, has become an important concern in rural and agricultural policy. However, while the term has been heavily theorised and discussed, particularly in the natural and environmental sciences, it is sufficiently ambiguous to support divergent and even contradictory policy goals and farmers' strategies. This paper focuses on the more encompassing notion of social-ecological resilience and contends that among the causes of this divergence are the disparate spatial and temporal scales used to assess and plan enhancing resilience. Based on empirical evidence, we show that strategies that may increase farmers' abilities to persist in a difficult economic environment may undermine the resilience of the wider region, while decisions that enhance farmers' resilience in the short term may lock them onto a path that weakens their future resilience. Using case studies from 14 different countries across Europe and beyond, we address two main questions. Firstly, how the notion of resilience is being operationalised at a farm or regional level. That is to say, what are the different strategies that farmers, rural residents and other decision-makers in rural areas are using to enhance resilience? Secondly, we look at how the outcomes of implementing these strategies vary according to spatial and temporal factors.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Adaptability
  • Agricultural development
  • Persistence
  • Resilience strategies
  • Rural development
  • Rural resilience
  • Transformability

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