Understanding Polycrisis: Definitions, Applications, and Responses

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This paper compares conceptualizations of the term “polycrisis,” raising questions about the key aspects of different definitions while stressing a convergence in critical features. It conceives a polycrisis as a state in which multiple, macroregional, ecologically embedded, and inexorably interconnected systems face high – and advancing – risk across socioeconomic, political, and other dimensions. After differentiating the term from concepts (such as cascading disasters, compound disasters, and recurring acute disasters), the paper locates historical events along a spectrum of such critical moments, concluding with several concrete recommendations for communities seeking to build democratic resilience in the face of these ongoing stressors.


Sienna Mark, Samantha Holder, Daniel Hoyer, Rod Schoonover, and Daniel P. Aldrich

Publication Date

5 October 2023


Social Science Research Network (pre-print)


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Resource Type

Academic Journal Article

Resource Theme

Societal Collapse • Sustainability and Transition • Theory Building

Uses the term polycrisis

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