Livelihood and Vulnerability Analysis

This page focuses on livelihood and vulnerability analysis, which draws on a wide diversity of methods to understand how individuals, households and communities make a living, generate income, sustain themselves, their assets and networks in a given social-ecological context, respond to stressors and drivers, and adapt to and cope with changing contexts and circumstances. The content on this page specifically discusses sustainable livelihood analysis and vulnerability assessment.

The Chapter summary video gives a brief introduction and summary of this group of methods, what SES problems/questions they are useful for, and key resources needed to conduct the methods. The methods video/s introduce specific methods, including their origin and broad purpose, what SES problems/questions the specific method is useful for, examples of the method in use and key resources needed. The Case Studies demonstrate the method in action in more detail, including an introduction to the context and issue, how the method was used, the outcomes of the process and the challenges of implementing the method. The labs/activities give an example of a teaching activity relating to this group of methods, including the objectives of the activity, resources needed, steps to follow and outcomes/evaluation options.

More details can be found in Chapter 32 of the Routledge Handbook of Research Methods for Social-Ecological Systems.

Chapter summary:

This video introduces the concept of Livelihood and Vulnerability Analysis.

Method Summaries

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Case Studies

Using Sustainable Livelihood Analysis to understand the resilience of commercial farmers in the Western Cape region of South Africa

Malherbe, W., Sitas, N. & Biggs, R. (2022)

Lab teaching/ activity

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Tips and Tricks

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Key Publications related to Livelihood and Vulnerability Analysis:
  • Adger, W.N. 2006. ‘Vulnerability.’ Global Environmental Change, 16: 268–281.
  • Angelsen, A., H.O. Larsen, J.F. Lund, C. Smith-Hall, and S. Wunder. 2011. Measuring Livelihoods and Environmental Dependence: Methods for Research and Fieldwork. London: Earthscan.
  • De Lange, H.J., S. Sala, M. Vighi, and J.H. Faber. 2010. ‘Ecological Vulnerability in Risk Assessment: A Review and Perspectives.’ Science of the Total Environment 408: 3871–3879.
  • Scoones, I. 2009. ‘Livelihoods Perspectives and Rural Development.’ The Journal of Peasant Studies 36: 171–196.
  • Turner, B.L., R.E. Kasperson, P.A. Matsone, J. McCarthy, R.W. Corell, L. Christensen, N. Eckley et al. 2003. ‘A Framework for Vulnerability Analysis in Sustainability Science.’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 100: 8074–8079