Methodological lessons for negotiating power, political capabilities, and resilience in research on climate change responses

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

World Development






Centre for People, Place and Planet / School of Arts and Humanities




Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) / Swedish Research Council (Labour-intensive; No. 2018–05866)


Tschakert, P., Parsons, M., Atkins, E., Garcia, A., Godden, N., Gonda, N., ... & Ziervogel, G. (2023). Methodological lessons for negotiating power, political capabilities, and resilience in research on climate change responses. World Development, 167, Article 106247.


Critical scholarship on the intersection of development pathways and climate change responses highlights the roles of power, agency, social difference, intersecting inequalities, and social justice in shaping people's resilience in a rapidly transforming world. Yet, how to precisely increase the spaces in which people experiencing marginalisation can address power asymmetries and strengthen their resilience, particularly from a methodological perspective, remains poorly understood. Here, we build on recent insights into political capabilities and their relevance for equitable resilience practice to assess the role research methods play in not only locating political capabilities but also enhancing them in the context of climate resilience. We present the findings from an in-depth analysis of 57 articles, out of a larger set of 200+ papers, that have employed co-learning/cooperative inquiries, participatory action research, participatory methods, workshops, and/or interviews combined with other approaches as most engaging and potentially empowering methods. Methodological insights through this analysis allow us to examine if and how resilience-in-the-making materialises across uneven power relations and often flawed decision-making processes. We show the pervasiveness of power differentials, even in research settings designed to be inclusive, and how disempowering processes in adaptation, mitigation, disaster management, and social transformation further marginalise already disadvantaged actors. At the same time, we illustrate the transformative role of alliances, resistance, shared learning, and sustaining inclusive approaches. Such nuanced insights into best processes as well as detrimental pitfalls are essential for development scholars and practitioners to help anchor deliberative resilience practice in the everyday lives of disadvantaged populations and foster political capabilities for more just climate action and policy.



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