Special Issue "Constructing Resilience, Negotiating Vulnerability"

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A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2013)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Gabriela Christmann (Website)

Leibniz-Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning Erkner, Flakenstr. 28-31, 15537 Erkner, Germany
Phone: ++49-3362-793299
Interests: dynamics of communication; knowledge and (socio-)spatial development; social networks; social innovation; climate change issues
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher (Website)

Urban and Regional Economic Studies, HCU Hamburg, Winterhuder Weg 31, D-22085 Hamburg, Germany
Phone: +49 40 300 323 37
Fax: +49 40 42827 4569
Interests: economic geography; network research; knowledge production; social media; cultural and creative industries
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Oliver Ibert (Website)

Leibniz-Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning Erkner, Flakenstr. 28-31, 15537 Erkner, Germany
Phone: ++49 3362 793152
Interests: knowledge practices in communities and networks; user-induced innovation; temporary organizations; labor market vulnerability and resilience; regional and urban governance
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Heiderose Kilper (Website)

Leibniz-Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning Erkner, Flakenstr. 28-31, 15537 Erkner, Germany
Phone: ++49-3362-115
Interests: spatial governance; cultural landscapes; vulnerability and resilience; and federalism in the German Federal Republic

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

During the last decades, perceptions of the future have become more and more alarmistic. The world, it seems, lives in a permanent state of emergency. Societal discourses about future prospects increasingly turned from valuing indeterminacy as an opportunity to perceiving uncertainty as a threat. Such discomforting sentiments are corroborated by the accounts on natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy or socio-technical misjudgements as unveiled by the nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima. Somewhere between resignation and the belief to control risks a ‘new language of preparedness’ (Ash Amin) is emerging.
The aim of the special issue is to scrutinize the analytical potential of vulnerability and resilience as keywords in this new language of preparedness and to explore processes of socio-technical construction of resilience across manifold empirical fields. In generic terms, vulnerability involves the processes of negotiating the value of entities that are potentially threatened by hazards. These threats can unfold gradually (‘slow burn’) or abruptly (‘shocks’), they are possibly irreversible, and also might constrain vital functions of the respective entities. The notion resilience addresses the ability of a threatened entity to survive possible harms. Resilience can either be achieved by the entity’s robustness to ‘bounce back’ into its former shape or by its flexibility to change its internal structures and by cultivating a robust state of adaptability.
While initially mainly used for the analysis of natural disasters, the notions vulnerability and resilience are increasingly employed to conceptualize societal challenges, organizational change as well as economic or regional crises. However, these debates have remained quite disconnected until today. The special issue aims at offering a cross-disciplinary ‘trading zone’ about the notions’ social scientific analytical potentials and socio-spatial implications. Authors from various disciplines ranging from geography and sociology to economy, political science and planning are invited to submit papers that address one or several of the following interrelated issues:

  • Vulnerability and Resilience as Cognitive Constructs: Perceptions
  • Resilience as Dynamic and Systemic Construct: Adaptability
  • Resilience as Political Con­struct: Governance

Dr. Gabriela Christmann
Prof. Dr. Gernot Grabher
Prof. Dr. Oliver Ibert
Prof. Dr. Heiderose Kilper
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Social Sciences is an international peer-reviewed Open Access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. For the first couple of issues the Article Processing Charge (APC) will be waived for well-prepared manuscripts. English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.

Keywords

  • resilience
  • vulnerability
  • risk-society
  • hazards
  • risk perception
  • preparedness
  • bouncing back
  • high-reliability organizations
  • heterarchy

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle The Social Constructedness of Resilience
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(3), 533-545; doi:10.3390/socsci4030533
Received: 26 February 2015 / Revised: 23 June 2015 / Accepted: 22 July 2015 / Published: 30 July 2015
PDF Full-text (187 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This essay aims to clarify what it means to de-essentialize the concept of “resilience”. Pre-determinated assumptions regarding its normativity or positive character are to be disproven in order to conceptualize it as an open (social) process; thus to adopt a social constructivist [...] Read more.
This essay aims to clarify what it means to de-essentialize the concept of “resilience”. Pre-determinated assumptions regarding its normativity or positive character are to be disproven in order to conceptualize it as an open (social) process; thus to adopt a social constructivist perspective on the phenomenon to which this term refers, while avoiding the typical pitfalls of relativism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Constructing Resilience, Negotiating Vulnerability)
Open AccessArticle Collaborative Resilience to Episodic Shocks and Surprises: A Very Long-Term Case Study of Zanjera Irrigation in the Philippines 1979–2010
Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(3), 469-498; doi:10.3390/socsci4030469
Received: 1 November 2014 / Revised: 25 June 2015 / Accepted: 2 July 2015 / Published: 7 July 2015
PDF Full-text (1994 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This thirty-year case study uses surveys, semi-structured interviews, and content analysis to examine the adaptive capacity of Zanjera San Marcelino, an indigenous irrigation management system in the northern Philippines. This common pool resource (CPR) system exists within a turbulent social-ecological system (SES) [...] Read more.
This thirty-year case study uses surveys, semi-structured interviews, and content analysis to examine the adaptive capacity of Zanjera San Marcelino, an indigenous irrigation management system in the northern Philippines. This common pool resource (CPR) system exists within a turbulent social-ecological system (SES) characterized by episodic shocks such as large typhoons as well as novel surprises, such as national political regime change and the construction of large dams. The Zanjera nimbly responded to these challenges, although sometimes in ways that left its structure and function substantially altered. While a partial integration with the Philippine National Irrigation Agency was critical to the Zanjera’s success, this relationship required on-going improvisation and renegotiation. Over time, the Zanjera showed an increasing capacity to learn and adapt. A core contribution of this analysis is the integration of a CPR study within an SES framework to examine resilience, made possible the occurrence of a wide range of challenges to the Zanjera’s function and survival over the long period of study. Long-term analyses like this one, however rare, are particularly useful for understanding the adaptive and transformative dimensions of resilience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Constructing Resilience, Negotiating Vulnerability)
Open AccessArticle Coping with a Self-Induced Shock: The Heterarchic Organization of the London Olympic Games 2012
Soc. Sci. 2014, 3(3), 527-548; doi:10.3390/socsci3030527
Received: 4 May 2014 / Revised: 12 August 2014 / Accepted: 26 August 2014 / Published: 11 September 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (206 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper starts from the assumption of a structural analogy between mega-events and large-scale disasters. Both imply forceful interruptions of everyday routines, and both involve imperatives for imminent action. Similar to the immovable deadline of an opening ceremony, a looming natural disaster [...] Read more.
This paper starts from the assumption of a structural analogy between mega-events and large-scale disasters. Both imply forceful interruptions of everyday routines, and both involve imperatives for imminent action. Similar to the immovable deadline of an opening ceremony, a looming natural disaster triggers a complex set of precautions and preparations to cope with the inescapable forthcoming shock. In the case of mega-events, of course, this shock is self-induced. In fact, cities fiercely compete to host mega-events. In the face of the daunting challenges of hosting a mega-event—the immovable timeframe, the rigorous standards set by regulatory bodies, and the exceptional public visibility—the authorities and organizations in charge traditionally have resorted to strategies of a strict adaptation to the conditions imposed on them. Aligning all available resources and capabilities to match the foreseeable demands, however, undermines the adaptability to cope with unpredictable perturbations. This paper seeks to explore the strategies and practices to attain adaptability during the preparation, staging and implementation of legacy plans of a mega-event with an evidentially noteworthy record: the London Olympic Games 2012. The paper seeks to demonstrate that the project ecology in charge managed to enhance adaptability by implementing three key features of heterarchy: ambiguity, redundancy and loose coupling. By leveraging the principles of heterarchy, the project ecology was able to draw lessons from previous mega-events and both to anticipate and respond to unforeseen challenges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Constructing Resilience, Negotiating Vulnerability)
Open AccessArticle Epilogue: The Machinery of Urban Resilience
Soc. Sci. 2014, 3(3), 308-313; doi:10.3390/socsci3030308
Received: 16 May 2014 / Revised: 18 June 2014 / Accepted: 23 June 2014 / Published: 26 June 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (37 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cities are increasingly being recognized as sites of resilience, or as centres of life that will have to become more resilient in a world of intensifying hazard and risk. The literature on urban resilience tends to emphasize either the qualities of human [...] Read more.
Cities are increasingly being recognized as sites of resilience, or as centres of life that will have to become more resilient in a world of intensifying hazard and risk. The literature on urban resilience tends to emphasize either the qualities of human cooperation and solidarity or those of the city’s intelligence capabilities—human or technological. This paper focuses, instead, on the city’s supply networks, arguing that the “machinic” qualities of mass provisioning and the flexibilities capacity of the city’s infrastructures may be key to the capacity of a city to mitigate against, or bounce back from, adversity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Constructing Resilience, Negotiating Vulnerability)
Open AccessArticle Governing Through Resilience? Exploring Flood Protection in Dresden, Germany
Soc. Sci. 2014, 3(2), 272-287; doi:10.3390/socsci3020272
Received: 20 December 2013 / Revised: 5 May 2014 / Accepted: 16 May 2014 / Published: 4 June 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (140 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The paper argues for a governmentality perspective on risk-management politics and resilience-related governance. This perspective pays ample attention to conflicts and discursive ‘battles’ in which different truths and normative assessments, including specific rationalities, subjectivities and technologies of governing compete against. Up to [...] Read more.
The paper argues for a governmentality perspective on risk-management politics and resilience-related governance. This perspective pays ample attention to conflicts and discursive ‘battles’ in which different truths and normative assessments, including specific rationalities, subjectivities and technologies of governing compete against. Up to now, the literature on governmentality and resilience has mainly been based on empirical research in the UK. This research highlights the growing importance of neoliberal forms of governing, including a shift in governing strategies towards activating and responsibilizing the public. This is to some extent in contrast to observations about dealing with flood risk on the river Weisseritz in Dresden. The paper reflects on possible avenues for further conceptual and empirical research on ‘governing through resilience’ in the context of flood protection in Germany. It is based on a brief conceptualization of ‘governmentality’ as introduced by Michel Foucault, a literature review, and selected observations from a case study on flood protection for the river Weisseritz in Dresden. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Constructing Resilience, Negotiating Vulnerability)
Open AccessArticle Your Resilience is My Vulnerability: ‘Rules in Use’ in a Local Water Conflict
Soc. Sci. 2014, 3(1), 172-192; doi:10.3390/socsci3010172
Received: 12 September 2013 / Revised: 14 February 2014 / Accepted: 3 March 2014 / Published: 11 March 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (262 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper uses an empirical analysis of a water conflict in the German state of Brandenburg to explore diverse constructions of vulnerability to water scarcity by local stakeholders. It demonstrates how, in the absence of effective formal institutions, these constructions are getting [...] Read more.
This paper uses an empirical analysis of a water conflict in the German state of Brandenburg to explore diverse constructions of vulnerability to water scarcity by local stakeholders. It demonstrates how, in the absence of effective formal institutions, these constructions are getting translated into conflictual resilience strategies practiced by these stakeholders, creating situations in which “your resilience is my vulnerability”. The novel contribution of the paper to resilience research is threefold. Firstly, it illustrates how the vulnerability and resilience of a socio-ecological system—such as small catchment—are socially constructed; that is, how they are not given but rather the product of stakeholders’ perceptions of threats and suitable responses to them. Secondly, the paper emphasizes the role of institutions—both formal and informal—in framing these vulnerability constructions and resilience strategies. Particular attention is paid to the importance of informal ‘rules in use’ emerging in the wake of (formal) ‘institutional voids’ and how they work against collective solutions. Thirdly, by choosing a small-scale, commonplace dispute to study vulnerability and resilience, the paper seeks to redress the imbalance of resilience research (and policy) on dramatic disaster events by revealing the relevance of everyday vulnerabilities, which may be less eye-catching but are far more widespread. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Constructing Resilience, Negotiating Vulnerability)
Open AccessArticle Local Constructions of Vulnerability and Resilience in the Context of Climate Change. A Comparison of Lübeck and Rostock
Soc. Sci. 2014, 3(1), 142-159; doi:10.3390/socsci3010142
Received: 16 September 2013 / Revised: 4 January 2014 / Accepted: 14 February 2014 / Published: 28 February 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (421 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Climate change is globally defined as a “reality”. This does not mean however that the way in which it is understood is the same all over the world. Rather, perceptions may differ at different places and times, even if physical and geographical [...] Read more.
Climate change is globally defined as a “reality”. This does not mean however that the way in which it is understood is the same all over the world. Rather, perceptions may differ at different places and times, even if physical and geographical conditions are similar. For the time being, this phenomenon has not been dealt with on a theoretical-conceptual level. The article will address this desiderate. Based on the approaches of social constructivism as well as actor-network theory, a theoretical concept will be suggested as a heuristic model for empirical analysis. By the examples of Lübeck and Rostock, two cities on Germany’s Baltic coast, it will be shown that climate change related perceptions of vulnerability and resilience may build on physical-material aspects but that they are above all considerably interwoven with specific cultural and social patterns of interpretation. In the framework of the local discourse in Lübeck, it is the strong Hanseatic tradition which consumes the climate change issue, whereas in Rostock it is the problems and historical breaks of a transformation society which shape the way of viewing climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Constructing Resilience, Negotiating Vulnerability)
Open AccessArticle On Resilience
Soc. Sci. 2014, 3(1), 60-70; doi:10.3390/socsci3010060
Received: 13 September 2013 / Revised: 3 January 2014 / Accepted: 16 January 2014 / Published: 10 February 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (54 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This commentary reviews key themes posed by papers in this Special Issue and points to open questions. For example, does resilience in socio-technical systems degrade with use or, like immune systems, is resilience upgraded with use? Similarly, is resilience about responding in [...] Read more.
This commentary reviews key themes posed by papers in this Special Issue and points to open questions. For example, does resilience in socio-technical systems degrade with use or, like immune systems, is resilience upgraded with use? Similarly, is resilience about responding in the face of the rare event? Or, is it being prepared for the rare event? Is it useful to think about the evolution of resilience? What are the risks posed by models of risk? That is, do models to reduce vulnerability to risk, increase vulnerability? What is the role of reflexivity in the analysis of resilience? Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Constructing Resilience, Negotiating Vulnerability)
Open AccessArticle Once You Are In You Might Need to Get Out: Adaptation and Adaptability in Volatile Labor Markets—the Case of Musical Actors
Soc. Sci. 2014, 3(1), 1-23; doi:10.3390/socsci3010001
Received: 13 September 2013 / Revised: 22 November 2013 / Accepted: 4 December 2013 / Published: 8 January 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (172 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The labor market for musical actors is very challenging for several reasons. On the one hand, it is difficult to acquire a position: qualification requirements are high, competition is fierce and reputation is difficult to build up. On the other hand, once [...] Read more.
The labor market for musical actors is very challenging for several reasons. On the one hand, it is difficult to acquire a position: qualification requirements are high, competition is fierce and reputation is difficult to build up. On the other hand, once in it is often necessary to get out: once being in, market demand for roles with a stage age above 45 drops dramatically and it becomes increasingly hard to stay healthy due to the threefold exposure to bodily strains of acting, dancing and singing. This labor market thus presents potentially interesting situations, in which the meaning of the concept resilience—in the sense of valuing preservation—can change fundamentally. While at the beginning of a career, the main challenge is often to adapt to market requirements, in the second half of a career it becomes increasingly important to become adaptable to a broader spectrum of opportunities, including exit scenarios. The paper generates empirically grounded ideal-typical accounts of the meaning of adaptation and adaptability for musical actors with a focus on the actors’ networking strategies, their professional identities, and the corresponding ways of perceiving and creating spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Constructing Resilience, Negotiating Vulnerability)

Other

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Open AccessEssay Constructions of Resilience: Ethnoracial Diversity, Inequality, and Post-Katrina Recovery, the Case of New Orleans
Soc. Sci. 2013, 2(4), 298-317; doi:10.3390/socsci2040298
Received: 27 September 2013 / Revised: 7 November 2013 / Accepted: 25 November 2013 / Published: 3 December 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (473 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, we draw on multi-level census data, in-depth interviews, ethnographic and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) methods to examine the effects of median household income, ethnoracial diversity, and flood damage on rates of post-Katrina repopulation in New Orleans. Our main finding [...] Read more.
In this paper, we draw on multi-level census data, in-depth interviews, ethnographic and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) methods to examine the effects of median household income, ethnoracial diversity, and flood damage on rates of post-Katrina repopulation in New Orleans. Our main finding is that New Orleans neighborhoods have been experiencing modest increases in ethnoracial diversity as well as a retrenchment of socio-spatial inequalities, as measured by low diversity scores, low median household income levels, and high poverty rates. In addition to documenting the objective indicators of “recovery”, we draw attention to the socially constructed nature of resilience. Based on interviews and ethnographic field observations, we investigate how resident constructions of resilience shape their views of the post-Katrina recovery process, provide a compelling and reassuring story of community revitalization, and convey a sense of collective power and control despite continued vulnerability to hazards and disasters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Constructing Resilience, Negotiating Vulnerability)

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