From defence to resilience: environmental security beyond neoliberalism

Corry, Olaf (2014). From defence to resilience: environmental security beyond neoliberalism. International Political Sociology, 8(3) pp. 256–274.



While the rise of ‘resilience’ as a strategic concept has been widely noted, security scholars have given it a frosty reception viewing it as a vehicle and multiplier of neoliberal governmentality. This article acknowledges that resilience does form part of a neoliberal security regime, but argues that a shift from defence to resilience has critical potential in relation to certain aspects of neoliberalism. It begins by arguing that blanket condemnation of resilience is part of a wider tendency to apply Foucault’s ‘governmentality’ concept as a particular global form of power rather than as an empirically sensitive analytic framework open to different configurations of power. It then shows how resilience forms part of a strategy to manage uncertainty - particularly in relation to coping with global environmental risks - that directly challenges neoliberal nostrums. A comparison with the concept of ‘defence’ is then made arguing that resilience, while problematic for other reasons, potentially avoids the pernicious us-them logic, exceptionalism and short-termism characteristic of conventional defence strategies.

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