Organising our ability to respond: recognising a social-movement as communities acting resiliently

Mr Jai Allison1

1University Of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia

 

Resilience praxis promises frameworks and antidotes for the rapidly changing risks and vulnerabilities facing increasingly complex and networked societies. Whilst seemingly useful, resilience praxis and discourse has been criticised for lacking the socio-political reflexivity needed to  account for complex social milieu. One concern is that in the universal pursuit of resilient subjects, societal expectations of who’s responsible for managing climate, environmental and other risks or vulnerabilities are being shifted from the state onto communities and individuals. This research draws together social-movement analysis and resilience ontologies to make sense of an empirical case study which illustrates how individuals’ sense of responsibility to their community contributed to a collective ability to respond to various disruptions. The case study traces how practitioners from the Northern Rivers region of NSW learned to operationalise resilience thinking whilst organising participatory emergent societal responses, such as the gas-field free social-movement that resisted the unconventional gas industry, the Lismore Helping Hands community-led flood recovery and the burgeoning self-organised energy transition initiative Repower Byron Shire. These practitioners’ experiences speak of becoming empowered to resist and respond to threats through collective political action. The results of which demonstrate a paradigm shift in how we might discern communities acting resiliently.


Biography:

Jai is a transdisciplinary Phd candidate in the Geography department at the University of Newcastle Australia. He had has over close to twenty years’ experience working in community development and organisational change. Bringing a practice based approached to research Jai’s work on resilience crosses from disaster risk reduction to complexity theory and social movement studies. His PhD draws on Deleuzian geo-philosophy to speak resilience praxis and literature critical of resilience.

Email: jai.allison@newcastle.edu.au

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