Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Samaraweera, H. U. S. (2020). Is resilience a unique extension rather than a rejection of neoliberalism? A critical reading of David Chandler’s writings on resilience. International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment.
DOI: 10.1108/IJDRBE-05-2020-0050

Purpose: This paper aims to engage with the concept of resilience as theorized by David Chandler in his book Resilience: The Governance of Complexity by drawing from the theory of governmentality presented by Michel Foucault and Jonathan Joseph.

Design/methodology/approach: Evolving from classical liberalism to neoliberalism and from natural sciences to social sciences, the term “resilience” raises many questions about its sustainability in terms of its meaning and complexity. While most scholars tend to underscore the significance and practicality of the term, a few scholars argue that it is a failed dogma with neoliberal characteristics. As this is a theory-based study, its methodology involves close readings of academic texts produced mainly by David Chandler, Michel Foucault and Jonathan Joseph. Findings: The central argument in this paper is though Chandler convincingly explains the paradigm shift of the term resilience from classical to neoliberal, his theorizing lacks the understanding that the type of power and governmentality involved in individual freedom, autonomy and complexity are actually parts of the neoliberal state. Hence, the buzzword resilience today is actually an extension of the same neoliberal thought.

Originality/value: First, the author attempts to critically engage with the term resilience from a sociological point of view using purposively selected academic literature. Second, the paper attempts to bring Chandler’s conceptualization on resilience into the disaster context and evaluates its practicality within the tenets of neoliberalism by drawing on Joseph’s and Foucault’s theorizations.

Author keywords
Complexity David Chandler Disaster Governance Neoliberalism Resilience

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