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Framing disaster resilience : The implications of the diverse conceptualisations of “bouncing back”

Paulina Aldunce (Department of Environmental Science and Resource Management, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile; Centre for Climate and Resilience Research (CR)2, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile and Department of Resource Management and Geography, University of Melbourne, Australia)
Ruth Beilin (Department of Resource Management and Geography, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)
John Handmer (Centre for Risk and Community Safety, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Mark Howden (Climate Adaptation Flagship, CSIRO, Canberra, Australia)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 27 May 2014




To confront the increasingly devastating impacts of disasters and the challenges that climate change is posing to disaster risk management (DRM) there is an imperative to further develop DRM. The resilience approach is emerging as one way to do this, and in the last decade has been strongly introduced into the policy arena, although it is not new for DRM practitioners and researchers. Nevertheless, resilience is a highly contested issue, and there is no agreed definition of it, which has resulted in confusion for stakeholders when applying it to practice. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to investigate how resilience is framed by researchers and DRM practitioners.


The analytical framework used was Hajer's “social-interactive discourse theory”, combined with analysis of government documents, in-depth interviews with practitioners and observation of field and practices within the context of the Natural Disaster Resilience Program in Queensland, Australia.


One of the key findings is that the idea of “bouncing back” is central to the resilience discourse but different interpretations of this idea results in real-world implications. Three different ways (storylines) in which practitioners construct the meaning of disaster resilience emerge from this study. Importantly the divergences between these storylines reveal possibilities for reframing to occur and these could lead to different policy options and practices.


The results presented in this paper offer empirical evidence on how resilience is understood on the ground, contributing to extending resilience theory and informing DRM and resilience practice.



The authors thank “Becas Bicentenario” from the Government of Chile, the University of Chile, the University of Melbourne and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia, for funding the present research. This publication also received the support of and is a contribution to the Center of Resilience and Climate Research (CR)2, FONDAP #1511009. The authors also thank the Department of Community Safety, Queensland and the case study respondents, for their generosity and willingness to participate.


Aldunce, P., Beilin, R., Handmer, J. and Howden, M. (2014), "Framing disaster resilience : The implications of the diverse conceptualisations of “bouncing back”", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 252-270.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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