Chmutina et al_Unpacking resilience_submitted manuscript.pdf (501.63 kB)

Unpacking resilience policy discourse

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journal contribution
posted on 06.06.2016, 13:10 by Ksenia Chmutina, Gonzalo Lizarralde, Andrew Dainty, Lee Bosher
There are an increasing number of articles and publications that attempt to define resilience in the face of numerous drivers of risk. Most of this work has tried to identify the values and virtues that are encompassed within a resilient approach in relation to the fragile relationships between the social, natural and built environments (including, for instance, abilities to prevent, react, transform and adapt). However, much less attention has been paid to identifying the practical implications of these values and virtues once a paradigm of resilience has been adopted. In order to address this gap, this study examines what institutions in the UK have actually done when they attempt to enhance resilience. Instead of defining what resilience is, this paper focuses on what local and national governments and other stakeholders do when something is called (or is attempted to be made) ‘resilient’. The analysis of 30 key policy documents, a review of 20 formal meetings of a Local Resilient Forum, and 11 interviews with stakeholders confirm that different (and often competing) understandings of resilience coexist; but this work also reveal that two rather different approaches to resilience dominate in the UK. The first responds to security risks, based on a protectionist approach by the State, the other responds to natural risks, and prescribes the transfer of responsibilities from the State to other stakeholders. The analysis illustrates the extent to which resilience has become a highly complex, malleable and dynamic political construct with significant implications for the ways in which policy is enacted and enforced, often with unexpected consequences.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Published in





70 - 79


CHMUTINA, K. al., 2016. Unpacking resilience policy discourse. Cities, 58, pp. 70-79.


© Elsevier


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at:

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This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Cities and the definitive published version is available at






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