ChapterPDF Available

Resilience and Governmentality of Unknowns

Authors:

Abstract

In this chapter, I argue that resilience, a concept rooted in complex systems theory, is becoming an alternative rationality for governing complexity and uncertainty. However, it is a specific interpretation of resilience that is co-opted into and reinforced by policy discourses; one which is in tune with the liberal framing of freedom and responsibility and the conservative value of maintaining the status quo. The former is reflected in the promotion of self-reliance as a key measure of resilient self, and the latter is manifested in the emphasis on bouncing back to ‘normal’ orders and negating the transformative opportunities that may emerge from complexity, uncertainty and contingency.
1
Please cite as: Davoudi, S. (2016) Resilience and Governmentality of Unknowns, in M.
Bevir (ed.) Governmentality after Neoliberalism, London: Routledge
Resilience and Governmentality of Unknowns
Simin Davoudi
1. Introduction
“[…] the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and
when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the
world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt
from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.
Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some
academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interest is
vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas […] the ideas
that civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not
likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are
dangerous for good or evil.
The above are the words of John Maynard Keynes (1936:241) whose own influential ideas
contributed to the revisionist approaches to classical liberalism of the 19th century and the rise
of welfare states after the 2nd World War. They suggest that ideas matter and should be taken
seriously in the narratives of change. Contemporary scholars have turned to ideas in order to
bring agency back in the so-called new institutionalism and undermine its over-emphasis on:
fixed rationalist preferences, self-reinforcing historical paths, or all-defining cultural norms
(Schmidt, 2008:304). Advocates of policymaking as social learning have also highlighted the
role of ideas. An early example is the work of Hugh Heclo on social policy in Britain and
Sweden. He argued that, ‘Governments not only ‘power’… they also puzzle’ (Heclo,
1974:305); that, ‘Much political interaction has constituted a process of social learning
expressed through policy’ (ibid: 306). Like the concept of ‘knowledge’, ideas carry multiple
meanings. Some see them as, triggers for interests, road maps or focal points (Goldstein and
Keohane, 1993). Others consider them as strategic constructs (Jabko 2006), event-shaping
2
narratives (Roe 1994), frames of reference or collective memories (Rothstein 2005). Schmidt
(2008) defines ideas as the substantive contents of discourse and argues that their explanatory
power lies in not only what is said, but also who said it, where, when, how and to whom. This
understanding of ideas resonates with Foucault’s power/knowledge dyad (1980) and his
perspective on governmentality. It strips away the modernist baggage associated with the use
of the term ‘knowledge’ and its epistemic definition as ‘justified, true belief’ (after Plato).
Used in this way, ideas do not simply emerge from ‘voices in the air’; neither do they belong
exclusively to ‘academic scribblers’ as Keynes (1936) put it. Instead, they refer to a broader
and more inclusive notion of knowing and its interdependence with power (Davoudi,
2015:10).
This paper aims to explore the role of ideas- understood as sketched above- in the
construction of government rationalities, focusing particularly on the changing politics of
citizenship and subjectivity. Bevir (2013) identifies two waves of reform in much of the
western liberal democracies: the first one led to the spread of markets and networks and was
inspired by neoclassical economics and rational choice theory. The second one, inspired by
new institutionalism, led to the spread of partnerships and joining-up while maintaining
networks. I would argue that since the 1970s, liberal democracies have also been informed
by another set of ideas that are rooted in complex systems theory whose influence has grown
considerably in the last two decades through the concept of resilience. Advocated by
ecologists, psychologists and disaster specialists, resilience is increasingly colonising various
arenas of public policy, as an alternative rationality for governing complexity and
uncertainty. However, I would argue that it is a particular interpretation of resilience that is
co-opted into and reinforced by policy discourses; one which is in tune with the liberal
framing of freedom and responsibility and the conservative value of maintaining the status
quo. The former is reflected in the promotion of self-reliance as a key measure of resilient
self and the latter is manifested in the emphasis on bouncing back to normal orders and
negating the transformative opportunities that emerge from complexity, uncertainty and
contingency.
The paper is structured under five sections. After this introduction, section 2 provides an
outline of governmentality and the role of ideas in changing modes of government. Section 3
describes the genealogy of resilience and its multiple meanings. Section 4 focuses on the
selective interpretations of resilience in public policy discourse and their over-emphasis on
3
self-reliance and return to normality. Section 5 concludes the paper by highlighting the
calculative and depoliticising nature of this discourse in contemporary governance.
2. Governmentality and the role of ideas
A key contribution of Foucault’s concept of governmentality is its rejection of the state-
centric analysis of political authority. It offers a non-essentialised understanding of the state
as a specific, dynamic and historic way in which societal power relations are now codified
(Lemke, 2000; Rose and Miller, 1992). Governmentality positions the state within the wider
field of government and points to the existence of diverse and diffused forms of power in
everyday life. Defining governmentality as ‘the conduct of conduct’ implies a complex web
of power / knowledge relations in which knowing and governing the self is intertwined with
knowing and governing others. It implies that we are both subjects of power and play our part
in its operation. Foucault coined the concept of governmentality in his lecture on ‘genealogy
of modern state’ (on the 5th of April 1978 quoted in Lemke, 2000:2) to draw attention to the
purpose of governmental actions and the means by which they are operationalised.
Governmentality refers to political rationalities (ends) and technologies (means) of
governance as they are played out in the context of specific governing ‘traditions and
dilemmas’ (Bevir, 2013). Whereas rationalities are about knowing, constructing and
signifying the objects, subjects and goals of government, technologies are about the means by
which these are achieved. They are assemblages of strategies, procedures, mechanism,
instruments and practices that are enrolled, mobilised and pragmatically adjusted to give
effect to governmental ambitions. The relation between rationalities and technologies is not a
linear, sequential application of the former by the latter; it constitutes complex
interdependencies between them (Davoudi and Madanipour, 2015:81).
What is common in the formation of government rationalities and technologies is the central
role played by knowledge, defined broadly as all forms of knowing, doing, experiments,
schemes and techniques, as well as the networks of people and processes through which these
are conveyed. As Rose and Miller (1992:175) suggest, ‘government is a domain of
cognition, calculation, experimentation and evaluation’. However, as I mentioned above, all
these ‘puzzling’ are intricately intertwined with ‘powering’- to paraphrase Heclo (1974) - and
cannot be disentangled in the analytic of governance. Ideas are both cognitive (what to do)
and normative (what ought to be done). They speak to ‘how’ policies can solve problems as
4
well as attaching values to and legitimating political action (Schmidt, 2008:307). The
exercise of power “both prescribes what is to be done and codifies what is to be known
(Davoudi, 2015:10). It shapes our sense of “what counts as self-evident, universal and
necessary” (Foucault, 1991:76). Although ideas are not exclusive to ‘experts’, being
identified as such provides experts with greater authority and influence. They become key
agents for steering the learning process in policy making toward a particular direction.
Traditionally, policy experts operated largely from within the state institutions and included a
great number of officials and civil servants. Since the late 1970s, expertise has been
increasingly outsourced. Today, there is an enlarging marketplace of ideas within which a
myriad of institutions and think tanks do the puzzling (and powering) in the policy making
processes. Social scientists, for example, have provided a repertoire of theories, ideas and
knowhow that have influenced the changing modes of governance. They have defined policy
problems, framed policy dilemmas, identified policy solutions (Bevir, 2013) and played a
major part in the ‘intellectual machinery of governing. They have helped rendering the
world thinkable, (and) taming its intractable reality by subjecting it to the disciplined analyses
of thought (Rose & Miller, 1992:182). The intellectual machinery has influenced, and been
influenced by, all aspects of the problematic of government such as: how to govern, for what
purpose, to what end, and with what means. As regards government rationality, it has
(re)defined and legitimated political rationalities and (re)produced the ideals and principles
that a ‘good’ government should aspire to such as: justice, freedom, responsibility, resilience,
growth and austerity. It has (re)defined the nature and characteristics of the objects and
subjects that are to be governed such as: economy, society, communities, individuals and
citizens. As regards government technologies, the intellectual machinery has created and
renewed policies, instruments and techniques such as: social insurance, performance
indicators, audits, and resilience building programmes. It has also come up with new idioms,
languages, metaphors, ‘yardsticks’ (Rorty, 1999) and pseudo-concepts which
simultaneously describe and prescribe perceived realities and dilemmas (Bourdieu, 2003:
85) and make them thinkable and amenable to political deliberations.
Schmidt (2008) suggests that ideas operate at three levels of generality: specific policies,
broader programmes and ‘public philosophies’. Policy and programmatic ideas are seen as
foreground because they are regularly revisited and changed while philosophical ideas are
seen as background because they constitute the underlying principles, values, beliefs and
worldviews that are often left unarticulated, taken for granted, and unamenable to scrutiny
5
(Campbell, 2004). Along a somewhat similar line of argument, Hall (1993:278) suggests that
policymaking is a process that involves three variables: overarching goals, policy instruments
and the settings for these instruments. Like Schmidt, he argues that instruments and settings
can be reformulated frequently, but only when the overarching goals are also radically
transformed, we can speak of a new ‘policy paradigm’ (ibid). He refers to the shift from
Keynesian to monetarist forms of macroeconomic regulations in the 1980s Britain as an
example of such a wholesale change, arguing that officials and experts played a greater role
in policy transformation than politicians. Consequently, inflation replaced unemployment as
the primary goal of policy makers, and this led to a focus on achieving a balanced budget and
a reduction in direct taxation and on using monetary instead of fiscal policy as the main
policy instrument.
From a governmentality perspective, both Schmidt’s ‘core philosophical ideas’ and Hall’s
‘overarching goals’ are considered as government rationalities (the ends), while their policy
instruments, programmes and setting are seen as government technologies (the means). Thus,
the 1980s’ ‘paradigm shift’ in macro-economic policy in Britain is interpreted as one- albeit
significant- part of a broader shift in the mentality and technologies of government with far
reaching implications for not only economic policy, but also the ways in which the
relationship between citizens and the state were reconfigured. More specifically, it was a
shift from one form of liberalism (known as welfarism) to another (known as neoliberalism),
and from one set of ideas about the state, liberty, economy, society, and individuals to
another (Davoudi and Madanipour, 2015). In the following account I will focus on a
particular set of ideas that although dates back to the 1970s’ complex systems theory only
recently (since the 2000s) have entered public policy discourses and largely through the
concept of resilience.
3. Genealogy of resilience and complex systems theory
Resilience has a unique genealogy with multiple roots in systems theory, engineering,
ecology, psychology and disaster studies. The term itself comes from the Latin root (resi-lire)
which means literally to spring back. As I have discussed in more details elsewhere
(Davoudi, 2012a), it was used by physical scientists and engineers to define stability and
resistance to external shocks. It denoted persistent, “efficiency, constancy and
predictability”; i.e. qualities sought for “a fail-safe” engineering design (Holling, 1996:31).
6
In the early 1970s, resilience entered the field of ecology particularly through the pioneering
work of the Canadian ecologist, Crowford Stanley (Buzz) Holling. In his 1973 article, he
made a distinction between engineering and ecological resilience at the centre of which was
the idea of equilibrium (Holling, 1973). He defined engineering resilience as the ability of a
system to return to equilibrium after a disturbance with the critical factor being the speed by
which (time taken) the system returns to a pre-exiting equilibrium. Built into this definition
are two assumptions: one is about the inevitability of return and the other the existence of
equilibrium; both are seen as desirable features and indicators of long term persistence and
stability. This equilibrium-based return to a steady state is embedded in the Newtonian view
of the world as an orderly mechanical device whose behaviour can be explained and
predicted by mathematical rules and positivist science (Davoudi, 2012b). Complexity was
recognised (notably through Werner Heisenberg’s quantum mechanics) but in a mechanical
and deterministic way, underpinned by a belief that the only limit to knowing the unknowns
is the scientific / epistemic limit (Chandler, 2014). The unknowns themselves were believed
to be the underlying, hidden laws that determine how the world works. It was this image of
deterministic science that thrust the formalisation of economics in the late 19th century and its
promise of creating a ‘prosperous equilibrium’ whereby free market transactions would be
“the embodiment of freedom” (Robbins, 1961:104) and the guarantor of liberty. For classical
liberals, liberty was defined not simply as the freedom to obtain private property, but as best
protected by it. Neoclassical economics and its holy grail of achieving Pareto efficiency
i
is
still based on some elusive systems’ equilibrium. Another example of the quest for
equilibrium is the modernist visions of the influential Charter of Athens which considered a
‘good’ city as having a “state of equilibrium among all its respective functions” (CIAM,
1933, no pagination) with the ‘power of plan’ as the tool to achieve it (Davoudi and
Madanipour, 2012). The modernist view of knowledge as capable of knowing what is to be
known informed the rationality of the post-war, liberal governments and their top-down,
centralised command and control technologies.
Challenging this engineering and equilibristic perspective, Holling defined ecological
resilience as the “persistence of relationships within a system” and the ability of systems “to
absorb changes of state variables, and parameters, and still persist” (Holling 1973:17). The
emphasis here is not on how long it takes for systems to bounce back after a shock, but how
much disturbance they can take and remain within critical thresholds (Davoudi, 2012a: 300).
The significance of Holling’s work lies in his departure from Newtonian and mechanistic
7
assertions of equilibrium - typical of the post-war cybernetics and closed systems theory - and
his adoption of the complexity science in the field of ecology. By then, the epistemic
understanding of complexity had moved on to acknowledging emergent complexity (Bryan
and Callaghan, 2014) where the emphasis is on the prevalence of unexpected and on not
simply epistemic limit to, but also logical impossibility of knowing the unknowns (the so
called unknown unkowns). According to the emergent complexity theory, “contingent
outcomes only reveal concrete causality after the event and are impossible to know
beforehand” (Chandler, 2014: 50). They emerge in a non-deterministic and also non-arbitrary
fashion in open systems such as life itself and social relations. Lyotard, writing at the same
time as Holling in the 1970s, captured the significance of this paradigm shift.
Classical determinism continues to work within the framework of the unreachable
but conceivable limit of the total knowledge of a system […]. Quantum theory and
microphysics require a far more radical revision of the idea of a continuous and
predictable path. The quest for precision is not limited by its cost, but by the very
nature of matter (Lyotard, 1984:55)
Holling’s response to the dilemma of governing emergent complexity was to advocate the
need for “a qualitative capacity to devise systems that can absorb and accommodate future
events in whatever unexpected form they may take” (Holling, 1973: 21). This implies that
complex life can no longer be governed by advanced (planned) intervention or direction and
instead should rely on its own capacities for adaptation and survival. In his later work,
Holling and his fellow ecologists in Resilience Alliance
ii
expanded the resilience thinking
beyond ecology and into the realm of society
iii
to advocate a total complex system in which
resilience is “integral to the co-evolution of societies and ecosystems” (Walker and Cooper,
2011:147). They began to use the term socio-ecological resilience (Folke et al., 2010) or
evolutionary resilience (Davoudi, 2012a; Simmie and Martin, 2010). Evolutionary resilience
challenges notions of order, stasis and equilibrium. It suggests that the behaviour of complex
systems cannot be explained by a single ‘attractor’ and a linear and proportional cause and
effect relationship; that complex systems involve multiple attractors and unpredictable shifts
can happen with or without external disturbance and with or without linear causal links. This
implies that, “small scale changes in systems can amplify and cascade into major shifts while
large interventions may have little or no effects” (Davoudi, 2012a:303), and “past behaviour
of the system is no longer a reliable predictor of future behaviour even when circumstances
8
are similar” (Duit et al., 2010:367). Resilience in this context is not necessarily about a return
to normality. It is about the ability of systems to change, adapt, and transform in response to
stress (Carpenter et al., 2005). The self-organising (Berkes and Folke, 1998:12) characteristic
of complex systems means that they can “actively shift stability landscape” (Holling et al.,
2002:14) and adapt to or transform in the face of stress. Resilience Alliance has expanded
evolutionary resilience from being a property of ecosystems to being a general systems
theory that can integrate society, economy and ecology into a total complex system (Walker
and Cooper, 2011). The totality is called the ‘Panarchy’ and is defined as:
“the structure in which systems, including those of nature (e.g. forests) and of humans
(e.g. capitalism), as well as combined human-natural systems (e.g. institutions that
govern natural resources use such as Forest Service), are interlinked in continual
adaptive cycles of growth, accumulation, restructuring, and renewal” (Gunderson and
Holling, 2002, cover text).
Proponents suggest that this general systems theory can be approached heuristically as non-
linear iteration of an adaptive cycle with four distinct phases: exploitation or growth,
conservation or accumulation, renewal or ‘creative destruction’
iv
and reorganisation. “The
first loop of the cycle relates to emergence, development and stabilisation of systems’
structure and functions, while the second loop relates to their eventual rigidification and
decline, and at the same time the opening up of new and unpredictable possibilities”
(Davoudi, 2012a:302). It is the second loop which challenges the equilibrium-based
approaches of traditional systems theory and classical systems ecology because it emphasises
that growth (r) and stable equilibrium (k) phases are inevitably followed by an Omega phase
of collapse and then spontaneous reorganisation that leads to a new, Alfa phase of growth and
renewal. Although the Omega phase is the time of greatest uncertainty, it is simultaneously
the time of high resilience with opportunities for innovation and transformation (Gunderson
and Holling, 2002).
Evolutionary resilience is a great step forward in systems thinking and a reflection of the
paradigm shift in science where nothing is considered certain except uncertainty itself. The
concept of resilience has now moved beyond ecology and found considerable prominence in
social sciences. This is evident in the 400 percent rise in the number of annual references to
resilience (albeit not necessarily evolutionary resilience) as a topic in the Social Science
9
Citation Index between 1997 and 2007 (Swanstrom, 2008:4). Resilience thinking has
influenced the work of scholars in regional economics (Simmie and Martin, 2010), socio-
technical studies (Janssen et al., 2006), public policy theories (John, 2003), disaster studies
(Vale and Campanella, 2005), spatial planning (Davoudi, 2012a; Wilkinson, 2012; Coaffee,
2013) and climate change adaptation (Davoudi et al., 2012). Resilience has also found a
central place in the rationalities and technologies of contemporary governance. Its speedy
and wide spread reception in multiple areas of public policy begs the question, why? I
address this in the following account.
4. Resilience as an alternative rationality of governance
Following Bevir (2013), modes of governing change in the face of new policy dilemmas
while the direction of change is shaped by the past experiences and new ideas. However,
although ideas matter in the narrative of change their leverage depends on firstly, their
enacted credibility in framing of policy problems and secondly, their perceived alignment
with traditional values and political rationalities.
As we entered the 21st century, the dilemma of governing emergent complexity became more
visible as a result of a number of high profile events such as post 9/11 terrorism, trans-species
epidemics and climate change-related disasters (Anderson, 2010:779). They shared a number
of common features such as, perceived imminence, catastrophic consequences, and illusive
and undiscernible causes of threats. As the shift to neoliberalism was legitimated by the
failure of welfare state to deal with the social and economic storms of the 1970s, these events
signalled the crisis of neoliberal states in govern complexity and legitimated the call for
alternative rationalities and technologies. Faced with the inadequacies of modernist framing,
emergent complexity appeared to be the leading contender as an alternative ontological
vision of the world of how life can be alternatively conceived as the object of governance”
(Chandlers, 2014:51). Resilience thinking appeared to offer a distinct way of governing the
unknowability of complex life; one that is based on evolutionary adaptation of self-organised
systems (be it individuals, communities, cities, companies, institutions or ecologies). The
perceived credibility of resilience in offering solutions to new policy conundrums was
coupled with its alignment with political rationalities of contemporary governance and more
specifically the liberal understanding of freedom and responsibility (the state-citizen
relationship) and the conservative value of resisting radical change. The former explains the
10
over-emphasis on self-organising character of complex systems in public policy discourse,
and the latter explains the underplaying of the transformative potentials of contingent life.
Both are evident in the highly selective interpretation of resilience which centres on
prioritising and mobilising two specific ‘yardsticks’ as measures of resilience. One is self-
reliance (translated from self-organisation in evolutionary resilience) and the other is bounce-
back-ability (appropriated from engineering resilience). The former puts the moral
responsibility to cope with emergent complexity on the resilient self with little or no state
interventions; the latter privileges a return to normality without questioning the desirability of
the ‘normal’ or, seeking a ‘new normal’ (Davoudi, 2012a). I elaborate on these in turn.
4.1 The responsibilised, self-reliant and resilient self
The concept of freedom has been used by successive governments in Britain, especially after
the late 1970s, to justify a variety of policies including decentralisation, devolution,
community- and place-based actions and localism. The new Labour government drew on the
ideal of freedom to embark on a series of “reforms to enhance choice, diversify supply and
devolve control”, so that “the Government moves from a centralised command and control
model to what has been called new localism” (Milburn, March 2004: no page). The Coalition
government promises to “be strong in defence of freedom” and “believes that the British state
has become too authoritarian, and that over the past decade it has abused and eroded
fundamental human freedoms and historic civil liberties”. It claims “to restore the rights of
individuals in the face of encroaching state power, in keeping with Britain’s tradition of
freedom and fairness” (HM Government, 2010a: 11). Rhetoric aside, different meanings are
attached to freedom and liberty. Defining what constitutes liberty has been the subject of
much debate among liberal philosophers. At the centre of debate is the question of how much
government is too much government or, in the language of the Coalition government, what is
the balance between ‘big society’ and ‘big government’. The governmentality perspective,
however, is concerned less with the question of how much government and more with the
questions of what type of government, to what end and by what means (Davoudi and
Madanipour, 2015).
Thus, the challenge for liberal modes of governing is how to govern the civil society - itself
construed by Classical liberals as a ‘non-political’ and ‘private’ realm- without obliterating its
endowed freedom and rights. In addressing this challenge, contemporary governance seeks to
11
shape the conduct of the subjects by acting upon: “the possible fields of their action”
(Foucault, 1982:221), their network of relations, and the environment within which they
operate (Rose et al., 2009; Dean, 1999; Lemke, 2000). The aim is “to align the aspirations of
free and autonomous individuals […] with those of government in such a way that their self-
fulfilments coincide with the fulfilment of government goals” (Davoudi and Madanipour,
2015:83). In other words, “the focus is less on players and more on the rules of the game”
(ibid). This does not necessarily mean less government but rather different forms of
governing; ones which foreground “governing at a distance” (Miller and Rose 1990 inspired
by Latour’s ‘action at a distance’) and combining direct mechanisms of control with indirect
technologies of steering, incentivising, nudging, enabling and auditing performances. A
prominent example of the latter is the establishment of a Behavioural Insights Team (nick
named the ‘Nudge Unit’) by the UK Prime Minister in 2010 to improve policy design and
delivery. The Unit which began its life in the Cabinet Office is now a company owned partly
by the government. The ideas underpinning their work derive from behavioural economics
(and particularly Sunstein and Thaler, 2008) which is playing an increasingly influential role
in “changing the way Britain’s regulators think about the markets they regulate” (The
Economist, 2014:33). In 2014, “an OECD Report declared Britain a world leader in applying
behavioural economics to regulation” (ibid, 34).
Freedom in liberal mentality is seen not as the opposite of coercion or the site of struggle for
utopian emancipation but as an instrument or, as Hayek (1976:163 original emphasis) puts it,
an artefact” that can be co-opted in the technologies of government and used to achieve
certain governmental goals. Instead of being merely obedient subjects governed from the
top, people fulfil governmental ends by conducting themselves freely yet in a responsible
way (Foucault, 1982). Responsibilization, therefore, is at the heart of the liberal way of
governing the self” (Davoudi and Madanipour, 2015: 84 original emphasis). It is a key
technology by which the boundaries of citizenship are (re)drawn and individual freedom is
steered towards pre-defined social norms and desired outcomes. The idea is that, with
freedom comes choice, so people ought to be responsible for the choices they make even
though their choices may be constrained by structural forces that are beyond their control.
What distinguishes different modes of liberalism from one another is their approach to
questions such as, responsible to whom, for whom, and to what end.
12
The post-war welfare state considered citizens as free individuals yet firmly “bound into a
system of solidarity and mutual inter-dependency” (Rose and Miller, 1992:196). Such
interdependency was constructed through a set of governmental technologies, notably the
social insurance system, which became exemplified in William Beveridge’s social contract.
The state was conceived of as the necessary regulator and keeper of the social order, albeit
for the sake of the market economy. Its relationship with responsiblized citizens was
reciprocal. Welfare provisions aimed to create a sense of ‘ontological security’ (Giddens,
1990) in which citizens expected to be supported by the state at the time of hardship and
adversities. The 1970s’ neoliberal states reformulated this reciprocal relationship. On the one
hand, ‘the social’ as the embodiment of collectivity was criticised “by those who contingently
coalesced around concerns over (its) homogenising, universalising, alienating and
disempowering tendencies” (Davoudi & Madanipour, 2015:89). On the other hand, citizens
were re-defined as “moral individuals” and “atomised actors” whose conducts were
determined by their own morality and that of their imagined and self-selected communities
rather than the society as a whole (Rose 1996:334; Davoudi and Madanipour, 2015). Politics
was, therefore, colonised by “an unguarded faith in the individual and free market as
deliverer of freedom” (Stedman Jones, 2012:19). Since then, citizens, who are increasingly
identified as customers with free consumer choices, are made responsible for and towards
themselves first; and only then, and in a strict moral order, for their families, neighbours and
associations. Mrs Thatcher (1987:10) said it all, “...people must look to themselves first. It is
our duty to look after ourselves, and then to look after our neighbour”.
The individualisation of responsibility has been coupled with a desire to replace the role of
the state in providing welfare and maintaining social orders with another regulating entity, the
market, because big government is seen as inefficient, ineffective, morally dangerous and
leading to a dependency culture that destroys individual freedom. As Raco (2009) states, the
move from the welfare to neoliberal modes of government has created and been enabled by a
change from ‘expectational citizenship’ to ‘aspirational citizenship’ with the defining
character of the latter being entrepreneurialism and competitiveness. The discourses of the
UK Coalition government are peppered with the liberal advocacy of responsibility but one
aimed at, above all, entrepreneurship.
“What is my mission? It is actually social recovery to mend the broken society.
that’s what the Big Society is all about… responsibility is the absolute key, giving
13
people more control to improve their lives and their communities, so people can
actually do more and take more power […] But above all, it’s entrepreneurship that is
going to make this agenda work” (Cameron, 2011, no pagination, emphasis added).
The principle of self-organisation, extracted from the emergent complexity theory, offers a
convenient match with liberal understanding of responsibility and the freedom from the state
interference. It is also in tune with the traditional conservative value of self-help. Self-
organisation is a particularly powerful narrative because it generates a contingently common
platform from across the political spectrum for the critique of global capitalism. It pays
homage to not only the neoliberal understanding of free and responsibilized citizen, but also
the grassroots’, communitarians’ and anarchists’ advocacy of self-sufficiency and self-
reliance as the alternative to capitalist global markets and stultifying states. It is, therefore,
not surprising that self-reliance is widely advocated as a common sense, neutral and universal
measure of the resilient self; one that a responsible citizen should aspire to in the face of
radical uncertainties.
However, its intuitive fit with neoliberal values is anything but coincidental. As the detailed
account by Walker and Cooper (2011) demonstrates, the genealogy of resilience and the ideas
that influenced the birth of neoliberalism runs in parallel. Like Holling, Fredrich Hayek and
his contemporary group of Viennese economists who fuelled the intellectual machinery of
neoliberal governmentality in the 1970s, were also influenced by complex systems theory.
Members of Mont Pelerin Society
v
vi
, along with its offspring think-tanks
vii
, combined the
classical liberal’s moral critique of big government with the economic critique of
Keynesianism to denounce the welfare state for its ineffective fiscal interventions and its
dirigiste, excessive and centralised power (Stedman Jones, 2012). However, contrary to the
common conflation of neoliberalism with the expansion of neoclassical equilibrium theory to
all aspects of social life, the Viennese group were highly critical of equilibrium analysis
viii
.
This is particularly the case with regard to Hayek’s ideas which were emerging at the same
time as Holling was writing his seminal paper on ecological resilience in the early 1970s.
Like Holling, Hayek drew on complex systems theory to embark on a sustained criticism of
not only “the state-engineered equilibria of Keynesian demand management”, but also “the
equilibrium formulae of the neoclassical economists” of the Chicago School (Walker and
Cooper, 2011:149). In his Noble Prize speech he declared that “the social sciences, like much
14
of biology but unlike most fields of the physical sciences, have to deal with structures of
essential complexity” (Hayek, 1974 no pagination, original emphasis).
Similar to the idea of self-organisation in complex systems, Hayek’s theory of ‘spontaneous
order’ advocates that, social order emerges from the interaction of self-serving individuals
who rationally utilise the price systems to adjust their plans (Hayek, 1967). He called for a
reform of “all social institutions in accordance with the self-organising dynamic of the
market” (Walker and Cooper, 2011:150) which he believed was a more effective regulator
and keeper of social order. Hayek’s distain of state planning was not based on its occasional
failure in predicting, preventing, or managing risks, but the logical impossibility of prediction
in complex systems. Although these ideas, among others, have been added to rationalities and
mixed technologies of government since the 1980s, they have not overruled the need for
“social engineering”; a term used by Douglass North in his Noble Prize speech (2005:162)
and in response to Hayek. “Policy activism” remained “necessary despite the limited
knowability of social interactions and the constitution of institutional forms” (Chandler,
2014: 54). However, resilience thinking calls for a shift of focus in government technologies
towards much less state intervention and much more responsibilisation of the subjects. The
idea is to let people self-organise and deal with the ‘unknown unkowns’
ix
as they emerge.
Policy in this context is a reactionary one, and learning happens post hoc. As Chandler
(2014:62) advocates, “governance thereby works ‘backwards’ from the problem- not
forward to achieve some collective policy-goal”.
Reflecting on the influence of complexity theory on new public management, Cook and Muir
(2012) argue that governments should not try to solve problems but enable those involved to
solve them for themselves. In this scheme, self-reliance is prescribed as a primary measure
of resilience and a key ‘existential yardstick’ (Rorty, 1999). It reflects and reproduces the
broader process of existential politicsby which “selective meanings and understanding of
human subjectivity” is identified and institutionalised (Raco, 2009: 437 original emphasis).
People are, therefore, expected to “carry the weight of the world on their shoulders” and
become “responsible for themselves as a way of being” (Sartre, 1957:51). “The resilient
subject is a subject which must permanently struggle to accommodate itself to the (the ever
changing) world” (Evans and Reid, 2013:83). It is claimed that, resilience, seen as an innate
capacity of the biological species will diminish if people are exposed too much to
dependency-induced welfare state.
15
The emphasis on self-reliance is actively pursued in the discursive practices of a growing
number of policy frameworks, think tanks’ reports and government’s guidelines in the UK,
especially in relation to community resilience building. For example, a government-funded
report on community resilience uses a so called ‘system dynamic diagram’ to argue that, “if
the Government takes greater responsibility for risks in the community, it may feel under
pressure to take increasingly more responsibility, thereby eroding community resilience”
(RRAC, 2009:6). Similarly, the Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience
stresses that people should take “responsibility for their own resilience and recovery’
(Cabinet Office, 2010: 7). Bulley (2013) provides a detailed analysis of the UK Cabinet
Office’s three-year community resilience programme to show how particular meanings of the
concepts of ‘resilience’ and ‘community’ are fixed and how power is exercised to “create
various kinds of subjects and simultaneously position these subjects vis-á-vis one another”
(Doty, 1993: 303).
The resilient self has become a measure of the fitness of people (and places) to survive in the
‘runaway world’ of insecurity (Giddens, 2003) and emergent complexity. The emphasis on
self-reliance reiterates the Darwinian law of natural selection and the survival of the fittest. It
corresponds with the liberal view of society as the sum of the individuals. As Norberto
Bobbio (1990, 43) puts it, liberal individualism “amputates the individual from the organic
body […] plunges him into the unknown and perilous world of the struggle for survival”. The
discourses of self-organisation, self-help and self-reliance reflect and amplify the replacement
of social responsibility with a “neolibralised care for the self” (Evans and Reid, 2013: 85)
because as Mrs Thatcher’s (1987:10) once claimed, “there is no such thing as society”.
4.2 The return to ‘normal’
The influence of complexity on the field of biology goes back to the beginning of the 20th
century when the notion of self-organisation was adopted as a key attribute of what it means
to be a living being (Jacob, 1989). Based on Stuart Kauffman’s
x
(2000) influential ideas,
emergence and contingency were seen as key characteristics of life as biological being. He
argued that, “no one designed and built the biosphere. The biosphere got itself constructed by
the emergence and persistent coevolution of autonomous agents” (Kauffman, 2000:3).
Similar to Holling’s resilience ideas, Kauffman suggested that complex adaptation within
16
biosphere (the space of biological transactions) produces unpredictable and self-organising
changes and diversification. So, “contingency is itself constitutive of what it means to be a
living thing. If life, understood as biological being, is to be secured, such life cannot therefore
be secured from contingency” Dillon (2008: 314 original emphasis). This creates a dilemma
for contemporary governance: how to secure complex life without destroying its essence as
emergent being. If the self-fashioning of responsible citizens are to be safeguarded and
enabled, ‘‘liberal life must be open to the unanticipated because uncertainty is a source of
threat as well as opportunity; “both that which much be secured against and that which must
be enabled” (Anderson, 2010: 782).
Resilience has arguably offered a solution to this conundrum because, contrary to
precautionary and pre-emptive strategies which seek to prevent uncertain futures or reduce
their impacts, resilience seeks to enhance our capacity to live with and even flourish from
them (Anderson, 2010; Grove, 2014). This is based on the idea that the Omega phase of
collapse in the Panarchical adaptive cycle opens up a window of opportunity for radical new
beginning. However, the selective appropriation of resilience thinking in public policy
discourses overrides such transformative potentials, and privileges a narrow engineering
perspective which is premised on a return to equilibrium. The emphasis is on bouncing back
to normal order; on preserving what we have and recovering to where we were (Davoudi,
2012a: 302, original emphasis). In line with conservative values, accepting, adapting and
maintaining the status quo are prioritised over the transformative opportunities that are
inherent in complex life. Exposure to threats is considered as inevitable and a constitutive
process of life, so rather than securing life against the unknowns or seeking potential
opportunities from them, a resilient self can (and should) adapt to them and carry on as usual.
Like self-reliance, the ability to return to a pre-defined ‘normal’ is advocated as the hallmark
of a resilient self (Bonanno, 2004). This bounce-back-ability is also actively pursued in
public policy discourses. For example, the former government’s first Intelligence and
Security Coordinator defined resilience as the capacity to absorb shocks and to bounce back
into functioning shape, or at the least, sufficient resilience to prevent [...] system collapse”
(D. Omand, quoted in Edwards, 2009:18). When launching the Scottish Resilience, the
former Cabinet Secretary suggested that public sector reorganisation had to “take all
practicable steps to […] respond and cope with major shocks so we can bounce back quickly”
(J. K. MacAskill, quoted in Edwards, 2009:18). The preferred option is to return to existing
social order, construed as normal, and negate the potential for transformation. The aim is to
17
ensure that emergent life does not spiral out of control and lead to undesirable surprises
(Derrida, 2003). Grove’s account of the disaster resilience programmes show how they
attempt “to immunize neoliberal order against unchecked adaptations by engineering artificial
forms of adaptive capacity” and disavow possible irruptions of novelty and surprise. By
doing so, they “turn life against its own vital force(Grove, 2014: 252) - contingency - and
stifle potentials for alternative trajectories.
Much has been made of the empowering potential of resilience thinking and its emphasis on
agency. However, as Foucault suggests empowerment is itself a form of power relations
(Cruikshank, 1999) and “freedom consists in realising one’s true self, that is in the
actualisation of one’s capacity to be rational’ (Rorty, 1999:114). So, agency in resilience is
defined and prescribed as the will of responsible individual who has an innate capacity to
make rational adaptation choices; with the rationality defined and prescribed as the return to a
pre-conceived normal. The empowerment aims to enable and enhance a particular form of
rationality that does not aspire to radical transformation. Based on the analysis of the UK
Community Resilience Programme, mentioned above, Bulley (2013) suggests that,
the approach is fundamentally about producing and governing community behaviour
through the development of resilience. The passing over of responsibility to local
volunteers, ‘champions’ and organisations is not about empowerment per se, but
forming subjects, placing them in a hierarchy, drilling (and scaring) them into more
manageable, directable (and resilient) individuals and communities. This is about
spreading a mentality of government throughout society, channelling and guiding
behaviour ‘at a distance’”.
A corollary to the discourse of speedy return to normality is the elevation of emergency
planning and the need for urgent action (Davoudi, 2014). Feeding from each other, resilience,
urgency and emergency legitimate the the evacuation of ‘the political’. As suggested by
Calhoun (2004:376) they “represent as sudden, unpredictable and short-term what are usually
gradually developing, predictable and enduring clusters of events and interactions”. This is
reflected in the following statement by Demos - a UK think-tank once close to New Labour
government-
18
“Individually and as a society we have a choice. If we want to continue to lead
complicated lives based on a vulnerable national infrastructure in an environment of
extremes then we must accept there will be major shocks, disruptions and stresses to
the system. As the credit crunch and global recession has proved, few national and
global finance systems anticipated and were equipped to respond to the major shock
of the sub-prime fallout in the US” (Edwards, 2009: 32).
This statement frames the 2008 financial crises as abnormal and sudden acts that are
challenging the global order of which the crises are exceptions rather than outcomes. By
provoking the need for emergency action for a speedy return to a pre-defined normality, the
selective interpretations of resilience override the demand for inclusivity, renounce or
displace social conflicts and “foreclose a proper political framing” (Swyngedouw,
2010:2019). They crowd out the space for raising questions such as, “resilience from what to
what, and who gets to decide?” (Davoudi and Porter, 2012:331). What facilitates such de-
politicisation is the foregrounding of: calculative practices, technical-rational risk
assessments, and resilience engineering. In the caldron of this highly selective resilience
discourse, creative potentials become stifled by formulaic procedures. As Evans and Reid
(2013:85) suggest, “building resilient subjects involves the deliberate disabling of the
political habits, tendencies and capacities of peoples and replacing them with adaptive ones”.
5. Conclusion
Ideas matter in shaping government mentalities and technologies. The ones that are perceived
as offering credible framing of policy dilemmas and matching the dominant political
rationalities are likely to have a greater leverage in policy reforms. Resilience seems to score
high on both accounts. Its growing influence lies in its ability to present a temporary match
between the cognitive rationality of complexity science and the normative values of
neoliberal mentality in relation to responsibility and self-reliance. Paradoxically, its
appropriation in public policy discourse is also based on the alignment between its
engineering interpretation and a return to equilibrium and the conservative values of the
defence of status quo. The outcome is an alternative way of governing insecurities which
although is influenced by complexity theory and resilience thinking, it remains highly
selective in the definition, calibration and mobilisation of them. In some ways, the selectivity
reflects the difficulties of disentangling powering from puzzling in the narrative of change.
19
As mentioned above, the focus of governmentality perspective is not on how practices
conform to particular rationalities, but what type of rationality they use and “how forms of
rationality inscribe themselves in practices (Foucault, 1991:79). In this paper I have tried to
show how liberal rationalities of freedom and responsibility are used to inscribe a particular
interpretation of resilience in practice; one that considers vulnerability as self-afflicted and
self-reliance as the best way to a resilient self, capable of adapting to crisis and returning to
the ‘normal’ order. The contours of citizenship is being redrawn to incorporate the resilient
self as one of the main existential yardsticks to which free and responsibilised citizens have
to measure up. Resilience has, therefore, become a key site where new links are forged
between governing others and governing the self so that people become both the target of
resilience programming and its voluntary partner. The process is enabled and regulated at a
distance through technocratic and calculative technologies of resilience engineering whose
goals include the negation of transformative possibilities. Through a complex process of
identification and responsibilisation, self-reliant individuals are deemed to act rationally in
reducing their own vulnerabilities but, in such a way that their adaptation is aligned with
governmental goals of returning to ‘normal’ and maintaining the status quo. Governing
through resilient self appears to be the liberal response to the dilemma of governing complex
and contingent life.
References
Anderson, B. (2010) Preemption, precaution, preparedness: Anticipatory action and future
geographies, Progress in Human Geography, 34(6): 777-798
Berkes, F. & Folke, C. (1998) Linking Social and Ecological Systems: Management Practices
and Social Mechanisms for Building Resilience, Cambridge, Cambridge University
Press.
Bevir, M. (2013) A Theory of Governance, University of California Press, Berkeley
Bobbio, N. (1990) Liberalism and Democracy, London: Verso.
Bonanno, G.A. (2004) Loss, trauma, and human resilience: Have we underestimated the
human capacity to thrive after extremely aversive events? American Psychologist,
59(1):2028.
Bourdieu, P. (2003) Firing back Against the tyranny of the market 2, New York: The New
Press
20
Bulley, D. (2013) Producing and Governing Community (through) Resilience, Politics, 33(4),
265275
Byrne, D. and Callaghan, G. (2014) Complexity Theory and the Social Sciences: The State of
the Art, Abingdon: Routledge, 86106.
Cabinet Office (2010), Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and
Security Review, London: Cabinet Office. Available from:
http://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/docum
ents/digitalasset/dg_191634.pdf?CID=PDF&PLA=furl&CRE=sdsr [Accessed
10/4/2015].
Calhoun, C. (2004) A world of emergencies: Fear, intervention and the limits of
cosmopolitan order, Canadian Review of Sociology, 4(4), pp.374-395
Cameron, D. (2011) Prime Minister's speech on Big Society, 14 February,
http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/pms-speech-on-big-society/, accessed 13/05/2014
Campbell, JL. (2004) Institutional change and globalization, Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press
Carpenter, S.R., Westley, F. & Turner, G. (2005) Surrogates for resilience of social
ecological systems, Ecosystems, 8(8): 941944.
Chandler, D. (2014) Beyond neoliberalism: resilience, the new art of governing complexity,
Resilience, 2 (1): 4763
CIAM (1933) CIAM’s The Athens Charter, Available at
http://modernistarchitecture.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/ciam%E2%80%99s-
%E2%80%9Cthe-athens-charter%E2%80%9D-1933/ (accessed 18 April 2014)
Coaffee, J. (2013) Rescaling and Responsibilising the Politics of Urban Resilience: From
National Security to Local Place-Making, Politics, 33(4): 240252
Cooke, G. and Muir, R. (2012) The Possibilities and Politics of the Relational State, in G.
Cooke and R. Muir (eds.) The Relational State: How Recognising the Importance of
Human Relationships could Revolutionise the Role of the State, London: IPPR: 319
Cruikshank, B. (1999). The will to empower: Democratic citizens and other subjects, Ithaca:
Cornell University Press.
Davoudi, S. (2012a), Resilience: A bridging concept or a dead end? Planning Theory and
Practice, 13(2):299-307
Davoudi, S. (2012b) The legacy of positivism and the emergence of interpretive tradition in
spatial planning, Regional Studies, 46(4):429-441
21
Davoudi, S. (2015) Planning as practice of knowing, Planning Theory, DOI:
10.1177/1473095215575919
Davoudi, S., Brooks, E and Mehmood, A. (2013) Evolutionary resilience and strategies for
climate adaptation, Planning Practice and Research, 28(3): 307-322
Davoudi, S. (2014) Climate Change, securitisation of nature and resilient urbanism,
Environment and Planning C, 32(2)360-375
Davoudi, S. and Madanipour A. (2012) Two Charters of Athens and two visions of utopia:
Functional and connected, Built Environment, 38(4): 459-468
Davoudi, S. and Madanipour, A. (2015) Localism and post-social governmentality, in S.
Davoudi and A. Madanipour (eds.) Reconsidering Localism, London: Routledge, 77-
103
Davoudi, S. and Porter, L. (2012) The politics of resilience for planning: A cautionary note,
Planning Theory an Practice, 13(2): 329-333
Dean, M. (1999) Governmentality: Power and rule in modern society, London: Sage.
Derrida, J. (2003) Autoimmunity: real and symbolic suicide a dialogue with Jacques
Derrida, in Borradori, G. editor, Philosophy in a time of terror: dialogues with Jurgen
Habermas and Jacques Derrida, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 85-136
Dillon, M. (2008) Underwriting security, Security Dialogue, 39(2-3): 309-332
Doty, R.L. (1993) Foreign Policy as Social Construction: A Post-Positivist Analysis of US
Counterinsurgency Policy in the Philippines, International Studies Quarterly 37(3):
297320.
Duit, A., Galaza, V., Eckerberga, K. & Ebbessona, J. (2010) Governance, complexity, and
resilience, Global Environmental Change, 20(3): 363368.
Edwards, C. (2009) Resilient Nation, London: Demos
Evans, B. and Reid, J. (2013) Dangerously exposed: the life and death of the resilient subject,
Resilience, 1 (2): 8398
Folke, C., Carpenter, S., Walker, B., Scheffer, M., Chapin, T. & Rockstrom, J. (2010)
Resilience thinking: Integrating resilience, adaptability and transformability, Ecology
and Society, 15(4): 2028
Foucault, M. (1982) The subject and power, in H. Dreyfus and P. Rabinow (eds.) Michel
Foucault: Beyond structuralism and hermeneutics, 2nd edition, Chicago: Chicago
University Press, 208-226.
Foucault, M. (1980) Power/Knowledge: Selected interviews and other writing, 1972-1977
(edited by C. Gordon) New York: Pantheon
22
Foucault, M. (1991) Questions of method, in Burchell, G., Gordon, C., Miller, P. (eds.) The
Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmental Rationality, Hemel Hemp-stead, Harvester-
Wheatsheaf, 73-86
Giddens, A. (1990) The consequences of modernity, Cambridge: Polity Press
Goldstein J, Keohane R. 1993. Ideas and Foreign Policy: Beliefs, Institutions and Political
Change Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press
Grove, K. (2014) Agency, affect, and immunological politics of disaster resilience,
Environment and Planning D, 32(2):240-256
Gunderson, L. H. and Holling C. S. (2002) (eds.) Panarchy: Understanding transformations
in human and natural systems, Washington, DC: Island Press.
Hall P. (1993) Policy paradigms, social learning and the state: the case of economic
policymaking in Britain, Comparative Politics, 25:27596
Hayek, F.A., 1976, Law, Legislation and Liberty, The Mirage of Social Justice, Vol.2,
London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Hayek F.A. (1974) The pretence of knowledge. Acceptance speech upon the award of the
Sverige Rigsbank Prize in Economics in Memory of Alfred Nobel, Salzburg, 11
December. Available at:
http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/1974/hayek-lecture.html,
(accessed 23/5/2014)
Heclo, H. (1974) Modern social politics in Britain and Sweden, New Haven: Yale University
Press
HM Government (2010) The coalition: our programme for government, London: Cabinet
Office
Holling, C. S. (1973) ‘Resilience and stability of ecological systems’, Annual Review of
Ecological Systems 4:1-23.
Holling, C.S. (1996), ‘Engineering resileince versus ecological resilience’. In Schulze, P.C.
(ed.) Engineering within ecological constraints, Washington, DC, National Academy
Press, 31-45.
Holling, C. S., Gunderson, L. H. and Ludwig, D (2002) in quest of a theory of adaptive
change, in Gunderson, L. H. and Holling C. S. (eds.) Panarchy: Understanding
transformations in human and natural systems, Washington, DC: Island Press, 3-22.
Jabko, N. (2006) Playing the Market. Ithaca, New York: Cornell Univ. Press
Jacob, F. (1989) The logic of life: A history of heredity and the possible and the actual,
London: Penguin
23
Janssen M., M. Schoon, W. Ke, and K. Borner (2006) ‘Scholarly networks on resilience,
vulnerability and adaptation within the human dimensions of global environmental
change’ Global Environmental Change, 16(3): 240-252.
John, P. (2003) Is there life after policy streams, advocacy coalition and punctuations: Using
evolutionary theory to explain policy change? The Policy Studies Journal, 31(4):481-
498
Kauffman, S. (2000) Investigations, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Keynes J. M. (1936) The General Theory of Unemployment, Interest and Money, New York:
Classic Books America
Lemke, T. (2000) Foucault, governmentality, and critique, paper presented at the Rethinking
Marxism Conference, University of Amherst (MA), 21-24 September 2000
Lyotard, JF (1984) The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, Manchester:
Manchester University Press.
Milburn, A. (2004) Active citizenship: the ten year agenda, speech to the Community
Consultation Conference, London, 2 March
North, D. C. (2005) Understanding the Process of Economic Change, Princeton: Princeton
University Press
Raco, M. (2009) From expectations to aspirations: State modernisation, urban policy and the
existential politics of welfare in the UK, Political Geography, 28: 436-444
Robbins, L. (1961). The Theory of Economic Policy in English Classical Political Economy,
London: Macmillan.
Roe E. (1994) Narrative Policy Analysis: Theory and Practice. Durham, NC: Duke Univ.
Press
Rorty, R. (1999) Philosophy and social hope, London: Penguin
Rose, N. (1996) The death of the social? Re-figuring the territory of government, Economy
and Society 25(3), 327-356.
Rose, N. & Miller P., 1992, Political power beyond the state: problematics of government,
British Journal of Sociology, 43 (2): 173-205.
Rose, N., O’Malley, P. and Valverde, M. (2009) Governmentality, Legal studies Research
Paper No.09/94, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney
Rothstein B. 2005. Social Traps and the Problem of Trust. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ.
Press
RRAC (Risk and Regulation Advisory Council) (2009) Building resilient communities, from
ideas to sustainable action, London: RRAC.
24
Sartre, J. P. (1957) Existentialism and human emotions, New York: Wisdom Library
Schmidt, V., 2008 Discursive Institutionalism: The Explanatory Power of Ideas and
Discourse, The Annual Review of Political Science, 11:30326
Simmie J. and R. Martin (2010) ‘The economic resilience of regions: Towards an
evolutionary approach’, Cambridge Journal of the Regions, Economy and Society,
3(1):27-43.
Stedman Jones, D., (2012) Masters of universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the birth of neoliberal
politics, Princeton University Press
Sunstein, C. and Thaler, R. (2008) Nudge, Improving decision about health, wealth and
happiness, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press
Swanstrom, T. (2008) ‘Regional resilience: a critical examination of the ecological
framework’, IURD Working Paper Series, Berkeley, CA:Institute of Urban and
Regional Development, UC Berkeley.
Swyngedouw, E. (2010) Apocalypse Forever? Post-political pluralism and the spectre of
climate change, Theory, Culture and Society, 27 (2-3): 213-232
Thatcher, M. (1987) Interview, Women’s Own, October, 8-10
The Economist (2014) Nudge, nudge, think think, 18 October, pp.33-34
Vale, L. J., and T. J. Campanella (2005) (eds) The Resilient City: How Modern Cities
Recover from Disaster, New York: Oxford University Press.
Walker, J. and Cooper, M. (2011) Genealogies of resilience: from systems ecology to the
political economy of crisis adaptation, Security Dialogue, 42(2):143-160
Walker, B., C. S. Holling, S. Carpenter, and A. Kinzig (2004) ‘Resilience, adaptability and
transformability in social-ecological systems’, Ecology and Society 9(2):5, available
online at: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol9/iss2/art5/, accessed 27 February
2012.
Wilkinson, C. (2012) Urban Resilience: What Does it Mean in Planning Practice? Planning
Theory & Practice, 13:2: 319-324
i
It is named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist who used the concept, in his studies of economic
efficiency and income distribution, to situations in which any changes to make any person better off would be
impossible without making someone else worse off.
ii
This is a powerful and highly productive and cited network with global influence on a wide range of policies
from ecology to international development and even financial management. It is based Stockholm University
and directed by Carl Folke. It works closely with the (Beijer) International Institute of Ecological Economics
that is based in the Swedish Academy of Sciences.
iii
The change was signalled in changing the name of Resilience Alliance journal from Conservation Ecology to
Ecology and Society.
25
iv
Borrowed from Shumpeter
v
After the name of a village in Switzerland where its headquarter is located
vi
Notably, Karl Popper, a philosopher, who played a major part in the critique of Hegelian and Marxist theory
and its collectivist understanding of society; and Ludwig von Mises, an economist, who attacked the growing
bureaucracy and its lack of ability to restrain itself..
vii
Notably Institute of Economic Affairs founded by Fisher in 1955 in London
viii
The same cannot be said about a related wave of criticisms which came from Chicago School and Milton
Friedman in particular which remained fateful to neoclassicism
ix
A term popularised by Donald Rumsfeld, the former US Secretary of Defence, and used by Chandler (2014) in
his discussion about emergent complexity.
x
Winner of MacArthur Genius award
... Holling in ecology (Walker and Cooper, 2011;Davoudi, 2016). They are not suggesting that the concept originated with his work, but rather that his specific conceptualisation of resilience was the one that was adopted by different policy making circles. ...
... In theoretical terms, the chapter engages with a series of contributions that can be loosely characterised as genealogies of the concept of resilience (Walker and Cooper, 2011;Aradau and Van Munster, 2011;Chandler, 2014;Davoudi, 2016). Such genealogies have traced the concept (and its popularity in academic and policy making discourse) to the work of Holling in ecology (Walker and Cooper, 2011;Aradau and Van Munster, 2011;Davoudi, 2016) or as a response to the challenges of complexity (Chandler, 2014). ...
... In theoretical terms, the chapter engages with a series of contributions that can be loosely characterised as genealogies of the concept of resilience (Walker and Cooper, 2011;Aradau and Van Munster, 2011;Chandler, 2014;Davoudi, 2016). Such genealogies have traced the concept (and its popularity in academic and policy making discourse) to the work of Holling in ecology (Walker and Cooper, 2011;Aradau and Van Munster, 2011;Davoudi, 2016) or as a response to the challenges of complexity (Chandler, 2014). In a nutshell, they argue that notions of complexity underpin resilience, whether in the form of complex adaptive systems or a more general theory of complexity. ...
Thesis
This thesis is concerned with what it means to govern through resilience, with emphasis on flood governance. Resilience has become a pervasive idiom of global governance and has grown in popularity over the last decade in UK policy making. It is increasingly seen as a policy ideal, a benign attribute whose fostering appears appropriate for dealing with many contemporary predicaments. While many academic contributions agree that resilience is a policy ideal that needs fostering, others regard it as politically problematic. Resilience is said to represent a neoliberal strategy that seeks to responsibilise individuals, away from state-centred forms of protection. However, I contend that these contributions, while welcome, are general interpretations of the meaning and uses of resilience, derived mostly from official documents and rhetoric. This thesis makes a contribution to knowledge by analysing a full length policy initiative centred on resilience, from policy design to implementation. As resilience gradually moves from high-level official rhetoric to actual policy, there is a need for critical investigations to shift from theoretical pronouncements of what resilience ‘is’, to what it ‘does’, or fails to do in practice. I argue that, in practice, the implementation of resilience is characterised by failure points and breakdowns, which signify severe disconnects between the goals of the policy and its mechanisms for implementation. These failure points challenge the substantiality of the argument that resilience is a form of neoliberal strategy. In fact, the findings of the research suggest that if resilience is to be produced at all on the ground, it requires substantial orchestration ‘from above’, by ongoing authority. Overall, I argue that the content of resilience policies is vacuous, and if resilience is to be transformed in more productive directions, the work needs to begin with an acknowledgement that resilience policies present themselves as a hollow shell.
... (1) the fact that they tend to be deployed for 'mending' effects in the context of crises (Fougère, Segercrantz, and Seeck 2017) and/or disasters (Grove 2014a); (2) their tendency to accept significant disruptions in social relations (Davoudi 2016; Moore et al. 2012) and to lead to a 'new normal' (Fainstein 2015); (3) their idealization of the capabilities of civil society and/or communities to entrepreneurially self-organize in order to address the social and environmental challenges they face (Fougère, Segercrantz, and Seeck 2017;Grove 2014b); and (4) their call for a responsibilization of marginalized individuals and communities for the risks they face (Chandler and Reid 2016;Swyngedouw 2009). ...
... Even based on the more recent, evolutionary perspective on resilience, which does not necessarily entail a return to normality after a shock (see Davoudi 2016), social innovators would need not only to think of how their solutions work well to solve specific problems in isolation as it were, but also to consider the broader system impacts the solutions might have (Westley 2013). This means that the transformative nature of SI, which entails a disruptive dimension, demands that innovators assess the broader impacts of the disruption they cause. ...
... The concept of resilience evolved from the natural sciences in the 1970s. Since then, different disciplines have adopted the concept (Alexander 2013) and it has become key for sustainability and disaster risk reduction (Davoudi 2016). Resilient urbanism is now a prominent topic for discussion within governments. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Cities worldwide are exposed to an expansive range of climate-related disasters, and thus, enhancing urban resilience is increasingly critical and has become a major goal of city authorities. With the rapid development of technology, the concept of a “smart city” is also becoming popular. A vast body of research has been published on urban resilience as well as smart city. There are also many tools and indicator sets for their assessment. However, there have been limited efforts to synchronously study these two concepts. Urban resilience and smart city have the potential to be merged, which is what this research calls “smart city resilience” and implies deploying “smart solutions” for urban resilience and sustainable city management. However, this trend is still in its infancy worldwide, and further exploration is needed. Additionally, assessment methods and approaches, such as a toolkit for assessing the current situation and making cross-city comparisons, also need to be developed. Hence, the purpose of this research was to investigate the indicators that should be included in an assessment toolkit. A panel of 13 experts participated in the Delphi survey, and the analytic hierarchy process was used to find the relative weight of each indicator. Finally, the opinions toward the assessment toolkit from the experts were discussed further. Results can inform future efforts toward developing toolkits for assessing smart city resilience.
... The concept of resilience evolved from the natural sciences in the 1970s. Since then, different disciplines have adopted the concept (Alexander 2013) and it has become key for sustainability and disaster risk reduction (Davoudi 2016). Resilient urbanism is now a prominent topic for discussion within governments. ...
Chapter
Full-text available
In the era of increasing risks and uncertainties induced by various stressors such as climate change and social and geopolitical conflicts, resilience is high on the agenda of planners, policy makers, and researchers. This is manifested in the increasing number of plans, programs, policies, and frameworks that are developed annually to enhance urban resilience. One potential impediment to the proper design and implementation of resilience plans, programs, policies, and frameworks is the incomplete understanding of the resilience concept itself. This issue becomes even more complicated when considering the fact that resilience is a contested notion and various definitions exist for it depending on the background, field, context, and objectives of the stakeholders. In an effort to better understand different conceptualizations of resilience in the context of urban planning, this chapter elaborates on the genealogy of the resilience concept and its underlying principles and characteristics. It is argued that resilience as a concept has an old history in fields such as physics and psychology but has been introduced to and used in urban studies only since a few decades ago. Urban scholars and practitioners have relied on the vast body of literature from other fields to conceptualize resilience depending on their specific purposes. Three dominant approaches that guide such conceptualizations are, namely, engineering, socio-ecological, and adaptive. The latter one has gained more momentum in the recent years considering the increasing recognition of the concept of living with risk and the need for continuous improvement and evolvement. This chapter concludes by elaborating on various underlying resilience characteristics such as Robustness, redundancy, flexibility, agility, adaptive capacity, modularity, resourcefulness, creativity, equity, foresight capacity, diversity, inclusiveness, connectivity, and efficiency. These characteristics are essential for developing more objective resilience plans, programs, policies, and frameworks. They could also contribute to making the resilience concept more tangible to various stakeholders.
... The concept of resilience evolved from the natural sciences in the 1970s. Since then, different disciplines have adopted the concept (Alexander 2013) and it has become key for sustainability and disaster risk reduction (Davoudi 2016). Resilient urbanism is now a prominent topic for discussion within governments. ...
... The concept of resilience evolved from the natural sciences in the 1970s. Since then, different disciplines have adopted the concept (Alexander 2013) and it has become key for sustainability and disaster risk reduction (Davoudi 2016). Resilient urbanism is now a prominent topic for discussion within governments. ...
... The concept of resilience evolved from the natural sciences in the 1970s. Since then, different disciplines have adopted the concept (Alexander 2013) and it has become key for sustainability and disaster risk reduction (Davoudi 2016). Resilient urbanism is now a prominent topic for discussion within governments. ...
Chapter
This study explores recent nationwide projects, including those related to smart cities, climate change, urban regeneration, and the K-New Deal, and in particular analyzes how the national smart city R&D project instills resilience in a smart city. This study analyzes a government-funded smart city R&D project in Daegu, South Korea with a focus on three main topics: the effects of the system, the main items that should be considered by planners and decision makers, and ways to ensure participation from diverse groups of citizens. Advanced smart city technologies and services are being adopted as part of the smart city R&D project, such as deep learning-based civil motion recognition, advanced technology for intelligent disaster prediction, and warning technologies for heatwaves, heavy rain, slope collapses, etc. Our analysis of the smart city R&D project according to the analytics framework shows that the Daegu smart city R&D project has sought to consider 15 indexes of resilience and include the three main topics mentioned above. The list of resilience indicators presented in this study can be used as an assessment toolkit that comprehensively considers various parts of the city, such as technology/services, planners/decision makers, and citizens, all of which make up a smart city. This checklist provides a means of evaluating various stages of smart city projects that aim to increase resilience.
... This rise requires the appropriate examination of the planning theories of resilience that will inform planning in the rest of the world. For example, it can be argued along with the necessity to refine low-income communities' self-reliance resilience practices in meeting their needs in the presence of non-delivering governments (Davoudi, 2016). ...
... A second governmentality strategy rests on the promotion of discourses of resilience as "an alternative rationality for governing complexity and uncertainty". 64 A more resilient citizenry can better cope with the ontological insecurities brought about by the neoliberal state. A third one entails the diversion of domestic anxieties and ontological insecurities through the narrative construction or securitisation of Otherness and foreign threat. ...
Article
Full-text available
One of the mysteries in contemporary world politics is why in recent years Australia has been leading the world in its hawkish approach to China, its largest trading partner. More than most of its allies, the Australian government seems to regard the China emergency — fuelled by threat perceptions ranging from foreign influence operations to economic coercion — as more pressing than, say, climate change. This article extends and supplants existing explanations of this puzzle by providing a more theoretically oriented account. Situating Australia's China emergency in the context of its ontological (in)security, this article traces the rise of such insecurities and Australia's responses through the conceptual frameworks of state transformation and neoliberal governmentality, which together offer a more socially and historically grounded account of the dynamics of ontological (in)security. The article argues that the China emergency narrative, as a specific routinised form of neoliberal governmentality, both helps sustain Australia's dominant identity construction as a free, democratic, and resilient state, and provides a raison d'être for the national security state that has become part and parcel of the evolving techniques of neoliberal governmentality.
Article
The concept of resilience has evolved considerably since Holling's (1973) seminal paper. Different interpretations of what is meant by resilience, however, cause confusion. Resilience of a system needs to be considered in terms of the attributes that govern the system's dynamics. Three related attributes of social-ecological systems (SESs) determine their future trajectories: resilience, adaptability, and transformability. Resilience (the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks) has four components-latitude, resistance, precariousness, and panarchy-most readily portrayed using the metaphor of a stability landscape. Adaptability is the capacity of actors in the system to influence resilience (in a SES, essentially to manage it). There are four general ways in which this can be done, corresponding to the four aspects of resilience. Transformability is the capacity to create a fundamentally new system when ecological, economic, or social structures make the existing system untenable. The implications of this interpretation of SES dynamics for sustainability science include changing the focus from seeking optimal states and the determinants of maximum sustainable yield (the MSY paradigm), to resilience analysis, adaptive resource management, and adaptive governance.
Article
Bo Rothstein explores how social capital and social trust are generated and what governments can do about it. A 'social trap' is a situation where individuals, groups or organizations are unable to cooperate owing to mutual distrust and lack of social capital, even where cooperation would benefit all. Examples include civil strife, pervasive corruption, ethnic discrimination, depletion of natural resources and misuse of social insurance systems. Much has been written attempting to explain the problem, but rather less material is available on how to escape it.
Article
For the past two decades, ‘complexity’ has informed a range of work across the social sciences. There are diverse schools of complexity thinking, and authors have used these ideas in a multiplicity of ways, from health inequalities to the organization of large scale firms. Some understand complexity as emergence from the rule-based interactions of simple agents and explore it through agent-based modelling. Others argue against such ‘restricted complexity’ and for the development of case-based narratives deploying a much wider set of approaches and techniques. Major social theorists have been reinterpreted through a complexity lens and the whole methodological programme of the social sciences has been recast in complexity terms.