The purpose of this paper is to advance the understanding of “resilience” by disentangling the contentious interactions of various parameters that define and guide resilience trajectories, such as the physical infrastructure, socio-spatial inequalities, path dependencies, power relationships, competing discourses and human agency. This socio-political reconstruction of “resilience” is needed for two reasons: the concept of resilience becomes more responsive to the complex realities on the ground, and the discussion moves toward the promotion of more dynamic recovery governance models that can promote socially just allocated redundancy in housing actions, which could be seen as a key to incubating resilience.
This is a conceptual paper that mobilizes theories of urban political ecology, social innovation and housing with the aim to examine the tensions between various discourses that steer housing production during post-disaster recovery processes, and put a spotlight on the heterogeneity in the transformative capacity of the various actors, institutions and visions of housing systems that preexist or emerge in the post-disaster city. This heterogeneity of actors (i.e. growth coalitions, neighborhood associations and housing cooperatives) consequently leads the discussion toward the investigation of “new” roles of the state in formulating relevant disaster governance models and housing (re)construction systems.
The initial stress produced by a natural event is often extended because of long-term unmet housing needs. The repercussion of this prolonged stress is a loss of social progress partly due to the reiterated oppression of alternative housing production propositions. In this paper, the authors conclude that an asset-based community development approach to recovery can provide an antidote to the vicious cycles of social stress by opening up diverse housing options. This means that the recovery destiny is not predetermined according to pre-set ideas but is molded by the various bottom-up dynamics that democratically sketch the final socially desirable reconstruction outcome(s).
The contribution of this paper is twofold. By using theoretical insights from urban political ecology, housing studies and social innovation, the paper first builds up onto the current reconstruction of the notion of disaster resilience. Second, by identifying a heterogeneity of “social resilience cells”, the paper leads the discussion toward the investigation of the “new” role of the state in formulating relevant recovery governance models. In this respect, the paper builds a narrative of social justice in terms of the redistribution of resources and the cultivation of empowerment across the various housing providers who struggle for their right to the reconstruction experiment.
This work was supported by the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen (FWO) under Grant number 83682.
Paidakaki, A. and Moulaert, F. (2017), "Does the post-disaster resilient city really exist? A critical analysis of the heterogeneous transformative capacities of housing reconstruction “resilience cells”", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 8 No. 3, pp. 275-291. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDRBE-10-2015-0052
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