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Sociotechnical Perspectives to Infrastructure Resilience

Infrastructure system resilience – the ability of infrastructure to maintain essential services by absorbing and/or recovering from shocks and stresses – is a sociotechnical property, contingent on the technical components of an infrastructure system, as well as underlying social processes and modes of organization and finance. It is also networked, contingent not just on the ability of a single organization or provider, but on the sets of organizations that come together as a system to collectively provide key services.

Work on sociotechnical resilience of infrastructure systems is to date relatively nascent. Despite a need for infrastructure to be well engineered and maintained, research that bridges natural, technical, and social science remains rare. Moreover, research that explores resilience from this systems perspective is also lacking, instead focusing on single firms or components not the more distended sets of systems that make up the infrastructure.

The purpose of this special issue is to lay the groundwork for advanced thinking and understanding on sociotechnical approaches to infrastructure and contribute to transforming infrastructure networks from spaces of fragility to those of resilience. To that end the journal welcomes articles and commentaries from researchers and policymakers working to assess and enhance the resilience of infrastructure systems –such as power grid, water supply network, supply chain system, and telecommunication/cyber infrastructures, and health infrastructure – through sociotechnical approaches. Specific questions focus on methods for researching sociotechnical systems, as well as sociotechnical related research and models:

Topics of interest (not limited to):

  • What are the generic or common components of sociotechnical resilience that can be seen across infrastructures (health, transportation, energy, etc.)?How can typical/atypical hazards cascade across other infrastructure, economic, and/or social systems? 
  • How can such cascading impact be modeled conceptually, theoretically, or empirically? 
  • How can we incorporate community differences such as differential vulnerability, exposure and capacity into sociotechnical infrastructure resilience?
  • How can the networked nature of infrastructure resilience be accounted for? 
  • How does infrastructure function as more than a sum of its parts? 
  • How are infrastructures made reliable by more than the sum of their parts?
  • What mechanisms can facilitate infrastructure resilience to the atypical hazards that infrastructure systems are increasingly facing, such as cyber-attacks, supply chain disruptions, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? 
  • How can knowledge from engineering and social science be combined to improve infrastructure resilience? 
  • How can researchers and practitioners work together to translate research to practice and vice versa?
  • How can we truly transform how we manage infrastructure, moving beyond current modes of operation that fail to reduce or even increase risk to approaches that are truly resilient? 
  • What sort of research or policy environment is needed to advance sociotechnical approaches to resilience?

Lead Guest Editor:
Aaron Clark-Ginsberg
Behavioral/Social Scientist RAND Corporation

Guest Editor:
Ji Yun Lee
Assistant Professor Washington State University

Submission instruction:

Please submit manuscripts via the online submission system at and follow the submission guidelines at

All manuscripts submitted to this collection should be indicated in the online system otherwise they will be handled as regular submissions. 

Open Access Publication:

Submissions will also benefit from the usual advantages of open access publication:

Rapid publication: Online submission, electronic peer review and production make the process of publishing your article simple and efficient

High visibility and international readership in your field: Open access publication ensures high visibility and maximum exposure for your work - anyone with online access can read your article

No space constraints: Publishing online means unlimited space for figures, extensive data and video footage

Authors retain copyright, licensing the article under a Creative Commons license: articles can be freely redistributed and reused as long as the article is correctly attributed.

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