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FRIAS Lunch Lectures - 'Societal Resilience': On the Ambivalence of a Concept.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Kaufmann
Sociology, Albert-Ludwigs-University Freiburg
Lunch Lecture recorded on December 3, 2020 

Societal Resilience. On the Ambivalences of a Concept

Resilience has become a core term in current security discourses. In the security research programme of Germany's Federal Government as well as in the communication of federal authorities, resilience is predominantly related to the field of civil protection and disaster management. It specifically addresses the involvement of the population in disaster prevention and management. The underlying consideration is that in the event of a crisis or disaster, authorities and emergency services may be overburdened and basic services may collapse. Two strategies result from this consideration: On the one hand, seeking new ways to increase human resources to support in emergency situations; on the other hand, the appeal to the population to develop capacities for self-provision and self-help. The presentation will take up these strategies by two case studies. The first case deals with attempts to integrate new forms of self-organization of "spontaneous helpers" via social media into regular disaster management structures. The second takes up the appeals for stockpiling food. The first case addresses structural problems in the attempt to increase the resilience of typically modern organisations, while the second case addresses the political question of what resilience aims at: structural change or individual respectively local adaption.