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‘Building back better’ is neoliberal post-disaster reconstruction
‘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.
- Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering
Pages589 - 609
- AM (Accepted Manuscript)
Rights holder© The Authors Disasters © ODI
Publisher statementThis 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.