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The language of resilience: ideas and action in contemporary policy-making

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 03:46 authored by Keith JacobsKeith Jacobs, Jeffery MalpasJeffery Malpas
It is difficult not to have noticed that in the last decade or so the notion of resilience has been adopted by many practitioners in Anglophone nations as part of a strategy for political engagement. Very often, those who advocate a resilience agenda concede that the insidious effects of globalized forms of capitalism cannot effectively be resisted and therefore it is necessary to accommodate to this reality by adapting and becoming resilient to any shocks that might arise. The aims of this paper are to explore not only some of the reasons why resilience has such appeal, but also to make some critical observations about policy responses at a time of increasing uncertainty. Amongst the questions addressed are: what might the use of resilience by policy-makers reveal about the conduct of government? Can its popularity within government agencies provide some insights as to why tangible reform remains elusive? Is there a form of resilience strategy that could serve to counter the pernicious effects of austerity and neoliberal policy responses? Amongst the arguments proposed is that, at best, resilience has only limited utility and at worst serves as a distraction to developing more incisive and lasting forms of political engagement.


Publication title

Housing, Theory and Society










School of Social Sciences


Taylor & Francis

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2017 IBF, The Institute for Housing and Urban Research

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Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in human society

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