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From rhetoric to reality: which resilience, why resilience, and whose resilience in spatial planning?

White, I and O'Hare, P (2014) From rhetoric to reality: which resilience, why resilience, and whose resilience in spatial planning? ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING C-GOVERNMENT AND POLICY, 32. ISSN 0263-774X

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Abstract

This paper analyses contrasting academic understandings of ‘equilibrium resilience’ and ‘evolutionary resilience’ and investigates how these nuances are reflected within both policy and practice. We reveal that there is a lack of clarity in policy, where these differences are not acknowledged with resilience mainly discussed as a singular, vague, but optimistic aim. This opaque political treatment of the term and the lack of guidance has affected practice by privileging an equilibrist interpretation over more transformative, evolutionary measures. In short, resilience within spatial planning is characterised by a simple return to normality that is more analogous with planning norms, engineered responses, dominant interests, and technomanagerial trends. The paper argues that, although presented as a possible paradigm shift, resilience policy and practice underpin existing behaviour and normalise risk. It leaves unaddressed wider sociocultural concerns and instead emerges as a narrow, regressive, technorational frame centred on reactive measures at the building scale.

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