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‘Building back better’ is neoliberal post-disaster reconstruction

journal contribution
posted on 18.06.2021, 07:48 authored by Wesley Webb Cheek, Ksenia ChmutinaKsenia Chmutina

‘Building back better’ (BBB) has become one of the most common expressions in disaster risk reduction. Disasters offer an opportunity to encourage improvements not only in the structural safety of buildings and infrastructure, but also in addressing structural inequalities and injustice. Consequently, they are an opportunity to make things ‘better’. However, in the context of neoliberalism, the definition of ‘better’ does not always mean ‘good for all’. We argue here that BBB allows for widely varied definitions of what is and what is not a risk, who is and is not responsible, and what forms of action are to be taken in response to these dangers. This serves as a designation for capacity to make ‘better’, but not actively change, social and political systems that initially create risk. Disasters and its terminology, therefore, are not ideologically neutral and should thus be deliberately unpacked and critically evaluated rather than accepted unquestioned.

History

School

  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Published in

Disasters

Volume

46

Issue

3

Pages

589 - 609

Publisher

Wiley

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Rights holder

© The Authors Disasters © ODI

Publisher statement

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Cheek, W. and Chmutina, K. (2022), ‘Building back better’ is neoliberal post-disaster reconstruction. Disasters, 46: 589-609, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/disa.12502. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.

Acceptance date

13/06/2021

Publication date

2022-05-05

Copyright date

2021

ISSN

0361-3666

eISSN

1467-7717

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Ksenia Chmutina. Deposit date: 17 June 2021

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