The dual discourse of urban resilience: robust city and self‐organised neighbourhoods

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Resilience has become a dominant disaster governance discourse. It has been criticised for insufficiently addressing systemic vulnerabilities while urging the vulnerable to self‐organise. The urban resilience discourse involves a particular disconnect: it evokes ‘robustness’ and unaffectedness at the city scale on the one hand, and self‐organisation of disaster‐affected people and neighbourhoods on the other. This paper explains and illustrates the dual discourse through a case study on the reconstruction of informal and low‐income settlements in the aftermath of the fire in Valparaíso, Chile, in 2014, focusing on the communication contents of two non‐governmental organisations (NGOs). These NGOs deployed the discourse differently, yet both called for affected neighbourhoods to build a more robust city through self‐organisation, and both suggested their work as the missing link between self‐organisation and robustness. A danger in deploying the dual discourse is that it requires people who live in informal and low‐income settlements to earn their right to the robust city through ‘better’ self‐organisation based on fragmented visions.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalDisasters
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)125-151
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 24.06.2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • urban resilience
  • informal settlements
  • self-organisation
  • robust city

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Responsible organising


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