Socio-Political Dimensions of Resilience


The proliferation of narratives touting social, economic, and environmental benefits that is circulating academic literature, public policy, and corporate boardrooms invites an interrogation into paradoxical representations and material realities of resilience. The promises of ‘resilience’ have led policy-makers to develop plans and policies that supposedly make places and people more impervious to future environmental threats and social challenges. However, resilience narratives are often deployed as a guise for continued practices that maintain conditions of those in powerful positions, and thus, do little to authentically address socio-environmental needs. This form of resilience exacerbates socio-environmental injustice and inequality. In effort to push toward a progressive resilience that addresses the underlying conditions that produce social, economic, and environmental disparity and vulnerability, the research agenda on the socio-political dimensions of resilience explores how social values and norms can be shifted from adaptive thinking and toward transformational resilience. Locating contradictions within governance, policies, and practices that invoke or address resiliency is central to a socio-political research agenda on resilience. Research questions addressed within this framework include articulation of the theoretical grounding of resilience narratives; understanding the social and behavioral implications of the discourses of risk, security, vulnerability in a number of contexts; and examining the social justice issues (rights, disparities, and privacy) that arise from different approaches to establishing resilient communities. This line of questioning lends itself to evaluation of inequalities of power relations as they relate to public policy, processes of social learning, and the transformation of resilience values. By better understanding how socio-political and values shape instrumentalist public policy narratives on resilience we seek to develop new normative dimensions of resilience that might ensure a more just, equitable, and sustainable future.



Current research:

  1. “The Structure of Resilience Narratives From a Socio-Political Perspective” (Jim Bohland, Jennifer Lawrence, Michal Linder-Zarankin, Vera Smirnova, and Natsuko Nicholls)
  2. “Establishing a Framework for Analyzing the Relationships Between Values, Worldview, and Resilience” (Jim Bohland, Jennifer Lawrence, Peter Rogers, Macquarie University)
  3. “Analysis of Recovery Funding Flows Using Data Mining Methods: Case of Loma Prieta” (Jim Bohland, Rupinder Paul Khandpur)
  4. “Use of Synthetic Population Simulations to Assess Vulnerability to Heat Exposure” (Jim Bohland, Samarth Swarup and Julia Gohike)
  5. “Governing Nature, Sustaining Degradation: An Eco-Governmental Critique of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster” (completed doctoral dissertation project by Jennifer Lawrence)
  6. “Biopolitical Disaster” (co-edited volume by Jennifer Lawrence and Sarah Marie Wiebe, University of Victoria)
  7. “Civic Organizations, Network Embeddedness, and Disaster Resilience: The Influence of Public Libraries' Social Ties on Role Perception in Disasters” (Michal Linder-Zarankin, dissertation proposal)
  8. “Culture of Fear and Resilience” (Jennifer Lawrence, Jim Bohland, and Mark Orr)

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