International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

How a risk focus in emergency management can restrict community resilience – a case study from Victoria, Australia

Jana-Axinja Paschen A B and Ruth Beilin A

A University of Melbourne, Royal Parade, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: jpaschen@unimelb.edu.au

International Journal of Wildland Fire - https://doi.org/10.1071/WF16064
Submitted: 26 August 2015  Accepted: 15 October 2016   Published online: 5 December 2016

Abstract

The research investigated understandings of risk and resilience in emergency management (EM) policy and practice. The core findings illustrate how a complex of institutionalised socio-cultural expectations and standardised processes – that is, evidence-based response models to deal with and communicate uncertainty – influence the operationalisation of resilience in EM. We observe that a focus on disaster risk as a quantifiable product of physical hazards is an attempt to control uncertainty and leads to engineered or technology-centred response solutions. Accordingly, community resilience is principally seen as the product of risk reduction, incident response and recovery interventions. The research shows that resultant command and control management practices produce limited – and limiting – interpretations of community resilience as disaster resilience. This can restrict existing and emergent community responses to risk, and the ability to imagine and enact more systemic types of community resilience. For instance, the short-term disaster focus tends to neglect the social and institutional root causes of community vulnerability and generic risk information is detached from everyday community experience. Using wildfire in Australia as its case study, this paper discusses the social, cultural and practical challenges of operationalising social–ecological resilience in EM.

Additional keywords: policy practice, social-ecological resilience, uncertainty.


References

Adger WN (2000) Social and ecological resilience: are they related? Progress in Human Geography 24, 347–364.
Social and ecological resilience: are they related?CrossRef | open url image1

Adger WN (2003) Building resilience to promote sustainability: an agenda for coping with globalisation and promoting justice. IHDP Update 2, 1–3.

Adger WN (2006) Vulnerability. Global Environmental Change 16, 268–281.
Vulnerability.CrossRef | open url image1

Aldunce P, Beilin R, Howden M, Handmer J (2015) Resilience for disaster risk management in a changing climate: Practitioners’ frames and practices. Global Environmental Change 30, 1–11.
Resilience for disaster risk management in a changing climate: Practitioners’ frames and practices.CrossRef | open url image1

Ascher TJ, Wilson RS, Toman E (2013) The importance of affect, perceived risk and perceived benefit in understanding support for fuels management among wildland–urban interface residents. International Journal of Wildland Fire 22, 267–276.
The importance of affect, perceived risk and perceived benefit in understanding support for fuels management among wildland–urban interface residents.CrossRef | open url image1

Baud I, Pfeffer K, Sydenstricker J, Scott D (2011) Developing participatory ‘spatial’ knowledge models in metropolitan governance networks for sustainable development networks: literature review. Available at http://www.chance2sustain.eu/24.0.html [Verified February 2016]

Beatson R, McLennan J (2011) What applied social psychology theories might contribute to community bushfire safety research after Victoria’s ‘Black Saturday’. Australian Psychologist 46, 171–182.
What applied social psychology theories might contribute to community bushfire safety research after Victoria’s ‘Black Saturday’.CrossRef | open url image1

Beck U (1992) ‘Risk society: towards a new modernity.’ (Sage: London)

Beilin R, Reid K (2015) It’s not a ‘thing’ but a ‘place’: reconceptualising ‘assets’ in the context of fire risk landscapes. International Journal of Wildland Fire 24, 130–137.
It’s not a ‘thing’ but a ‘place’: reconceptualising ‘assets’ in the context of fire risk landscapes.CrossRef | open url image1

Berkes F (2007) Understanding uncertainty and reducing vulnerability: lessons from resilience thinking. Natural Hazards 41, 283–295.
Understanding uncertainty and reducing vulnerability: lessons from resilience thinking.CrossRef | open url image1

Berkes F, Folke C (1998) Linking social and ecological systems for resilience and sustainability. In ‘Linking social and ecological systems: management practices and social mechanisms for building resilience’ (Eds F Berkes, C Folke) pp. 1–25. (Cambridge University Press, New York, NY)

Berkes F, Ross H (2013) Community resilience: toward an integrated approach. Society & Natural Resources 26, 5–20.
Community resilience: toward an integrated approach.CrossRef | open url image1

Boonstra WJ (2016) Conceptualizing power to study social–ecological interactions. Ecology and Society 21, 21
Conceptualizing power to study social–ecological interactions.CrossRef | open url image1

Bourdieu P (1990) ‘The logic of practice.’ (Polity: Cambridge, UK)

Bradbury JA (1989) The policy implications of differing concepts of risk. Science, Technology & Human Values 14, 380–399.
The policy implications of differing concepts of risk.CrossRef | open url image1

Brand FS, Jax K (2007) Focusing the meaning(s) of resilience: resilience as a descriptive concept and a boundary object Ecology and Society 12, 23 [Verified 18 October 2016]http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss1/art23/

Brown K (2014) Global environmental change: a social turn for resilience? Progress in Human Geography 38, 107–117.
Global environmental change: a social turn for resilience?CrossRef | open url image1

Buikstra E, Ross H, King CA, Baker PG, Hegney D, McLachlan K, Rogers-Clark C (2010) The components of resilience: perceptions of an Australian rural community. Journal of Community Psychology 38, 975–991.
The components of resilience: perceptions of an Australian rural community.CrossRef | open url image1

Chandler D (2014) Beyond neoliberalism: resilience, the new art of governing complexity. Resilience 2, 47–63.
Beyond neoliberalism: resilience, the new art of governing complexity.CrossRef | open url image1

Clarke B, Stocker L, Coffey B, Leith P, Harvey N, Baldwin C, Baxter T, Bruekers G, Danese Galano C, Good M, Haward M, Hofmeester C, Martins De Freitas D, Mumford T, Nursey-Bray M, Kriwoken L, Shaw J, Shawl J, Smith T, Thomsen D, Wood D, Cannard T (2013) Enhancing the knowledge governance interface: coasts, climate and collaboration. Ocean and Coastal Management 86, 88–99.
Enhancing the knowledge governance interface: coasts, climate and collaboration.CrossRef | open url image1

Cook SDN, Wagenaar H (2012) Navigating the eternally unfolding present: toward an epistemology of practice. American Review of Public Administration 42, 3–38.
Navigating the eternally unfolding present: toward an epistemology of practice.CrossRef | open url image1

Cote M, Nightingale AJ (2012) Resilience thinking meets social theory: situating social change in socio-ecological systems (SES) research. Progress in Human Geography 36, 475–489.
Resilience thinking meets social theory: situating social change in socio-ecological systems (SES) research.CrossRef | open url image1

Cottrell A, Bushnell S, Spillman M, Newton J, Lowe D, Balcombe L (2008) Community perceptions of bushfire risk. In ‘Community bushfire safety.’ (Eds J Handmer, K Haynes) pp. 11–20. (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne)

Council of Australian Governments (2011) National strategy for disaster resilience. Commonwealth of Australia. Available at https://www.em.gov.au/Documents/1National%20Strategy%20for%20Disaster%20Resilience%20-%20pdf.PDF [Verified November 2014]

Cretney R, Bond S (2014) ‘Bouncing back’ to capitalism? Grass-roots autonomous activism in shaping discourses of resilience and transformation following disaster. Resilience 2, 18–31.
‘Bouncing back’ to capitalism? Grass-roots autonomous activism in shaping discourses of resilience and transformation following disaster.CrossRef | open url image1

Dake K (1992) Myths of nature: culture and the social construction of risk. Journal of Social Issues 48, 21–37.
Myths of nature: culture and the social construction of risk.CrossRef | open url image1

Davoudi S (2012) Resilience: a bridging concept or a dead end. Planning Theory & Practice 13, 299–307.
Resilience: a bridging concept or a dead end.CrossRef | open url image1

Dewey J (1988) ‘Reconstruction in philosophy. Middle works 1899–1924’. Vol. 12. (Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale, IL)

Douglas M, Wildavsky A (1982) ‘Risk and culture: an essay on the selection of technical and environmental dangers.’ (University of California Press: London)

DPC (2010) Fire Services Commissioner Act 2010. Department of Premier and Cabinet, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne. No. 73.

DPC (2012) Victorian emergency management reform white paper. Department of Premier and Cabinet, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne. Available from http://www.publish.csiro.au/he/forauthors/openaccess [Verified 20 October 2016]

DSE (2011) Approach to risk-based bushfire management planning framework. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne.

DSE (2012a) Code of practice for bushfire management on public land. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne.

DSE (2012b) Reforming bushfire management at DSE – risk-based approach for bushfire management. Strategic implementation plan. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne.

Eden S (1998) Environmental issues: knowledge, uncertainty and the environment. Progress in Human Geography 22, 425–432.
Environmental issues: knowledge, uncertainty and the environment.CrossRef | open url image1

Fabinyi M, Evans L, Foale SJ (2014) Social-ecological systems, social diversity, and power: insights from anthropology and political ecology. Ecology and Society 19, 28
Social-ecological systems, social diversity, and power: insights from anthropology and political ecology.CrossRef | open url image1

Fairhurst G, Putnam L (2004) Organizations as discursive constructions. Communication Theory 14, 5–26.
Organizations as discursive constructions.CrossRef | open url image1

Fischer AP, Kline JD, Ager AA, Charnley S, Olsen KA (2014) Objective and perceived wildfire risk and its influence on private forest landowners’ fuel reduction activities in Oregon’s (USA) ponderosa pine ecoregion. International Journal of Wildland Fire 23, 143–153.
Objective and perceived wildfire risk and its influence on private forest landowners’ fuel reduction activities in Oregon’s (USA) ponderosa pine ecoregion.CrossRef | open url image1

Folke C (2006) Resilience: the emergence of a perspective for social-ecological system analyses. Global Environmental Change 16, 253–267.
Resilience: the emergence of a perspective for social-ecological system analyses.CrossRef | open url image1

Folke C, Carpenter SR, Walker B, Scheffer M, Chapin T, Rockström J (2010) Resilience thinking: integrating resilience, adaptability and transformability. Ecology and Society 15, 20 [online].

Goldstein B (Ed) (2012) ‘Collaborative resilience.’ (MIT Press: Cambridge, MA)

Grove K (2014) Agency, affect, and the immunological politics of disaster resilience. Environment and Planning. D, Society & Space 32, 240–256.
Agency, affect, and the immunological politics of disaster resilience.CrossRef | open url image1

Gunderson L, Holling CS (2002) ‘Panarchy: understanding transformations in human and natural systems’. (Island Press: Washington, DC)

Heron J, Reason P (2001) The practice of co-operative inquiry: research ‘with’ rather than ‘on’ people. In ‘Handbook of action research.’ (Eds P Reason, H Bradbury) pp. 179–188. (Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA)

Holling CS (1973) Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 4, 1–23.
Resilience and stability of ecological systems.CrossRef | open url image1

Holling CS (1996) Engineering resilience versus ecological resilience. In ‘Engineering within ecological constraints.’ (Ed. PC Schulz) pp. 31–44. (National Academy Press: Washington, DC)

Holling CS (2001) Understanding the complexity of economic, ecological, and social systems. Ecosystems 4, 390–405.
Understanding the complexity of economic, ecological, and social systems.CrossRef | open url image1

Holling CS, Meffe GK (1996) Command and control and the pathology of natural resource management. Conservation Biology 10, 328–337.
Command and control and the pathology of natural resource management.CrossRef | open url image1

Irwin A, Wynne B (Eds) (1996) Misunderstanding science? The public reconstruction of science and technology. (Cambridge University Press: London)

Jakes PJ, Langer ER (2012) The adaptive capacity of New Zealand communities to wildfire. International Journal of Wildland Fire 21, 764–772.
The adaptive capacity of New Zealand communities to wildfire.CrossRef | open url image1

Jakes PJ, Sturtevant V (2013) Trial by fire: community wildfire protection plans put to the test. International Journal of Wildland Fire 22, 1134–1143.
Trial by fire: community wildfire protection plans put to the test.CrossRef | open url image1

Kemmis S, McTaggart R, Nixon R (2014) ‘The action research planner: doing critical participatory action research.’ (Springer: Singapore)

Kern F (2011) Ideas, institutions, and interests: explaining policy divergence in fostering ‘system innovations’ towards sustainability. Environment and Planning. C, Government & Policy 29, 1116–1134.
Ideas, institutions, and interests: explaining policy divergence in fostering ‘system innovations’ towards sustainability.CrossRef | open url image1

Kinzig AP, Antle J, Ascher W, Brock W, Carpenter S, Chapin FS III, Costanza R, Cottingham KL, Dove M, Dowlatabadi H, Elliot E, Ewel K, Fisher A, Gober P, Grimm N, Groves T, Hanna S, Heal G, Lee K, Levin S, Lubchenco J, Ludwig D, Martinez-Alier J, Murdoch W, Naylor R, Norgaard R, Oppenheimer M, Pfaff A, Pickett S, Polasky S, Pulliam HR, Redman C, Rodriguez JP, Root T, Schneider S, Schuler R, Scudder T, Segersen K, Shaw MR, Simpson D, Small AA, Starrett D, Taylor P, van der Leeuw S, Wall DH, Wilson M (2000) Nature and society: an imperative for integrated environmental research. A report prepared for the National Science Foundation of the United States, Tempe, AZ. Available at http://stephenschneider.stanford.edu/Publications/PDF_Papers/NSFReport.pdf [Verified 19 October 2016]

Kruger T, Beilin R (2014) A ‘responsibility for place’ – firefighter deployment, local knowledge and risk. International Journal of Wildland Fire 23, 577–584.
A ‘responsibility for place’ – firefighter deployment, local knowledge and risk.CrossRef | open url image1

Kulig JC, Edge D, Joyce B (2008) Understanding community resiliency in rural communities through multimethod research. Journal of Rural and Community Development 3, 76–94.

Libel L, Anderies JM, Campbell B, Folke C, Hatfield-Dodds S, Hughes TP, Wilson J (2006) Governance and the capacity to manage resilience in regional social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society 11, 230–250.

Lupton D (Ed) (1999) ‘Risk and sociocultural theory: new directions and perspectives’ (Cambridge University Press: New York, NY)

Lupton D (2013) Risk and emotion: towards an alternative theoretical perspective. Health Risk & Society 15, 634–647.
Risk and emotion: towards an alternative theoretical perspective.CrossRef | open url image1

McCaffrey S (2008) Understanding public perspectives of wildfire risk. In ‘Wildfire risk: human perceptions and management implications.’ (Eds WE Martin, C Raish, B Kent) pp. 11–22. (RFF Press: Washington, DC)

McCarthy M (2012) Review of resilience concepts and their measurement for fire management. In ‘Fire and adaptive management report no. 90.’ (Ed. Department of Sustainability and Environment: Melbourne)

McLennan B, Eburn M (2015) Exposing hidden-value trade-offs: sharing wildfire management responsibility between government and citizens. International Journal of Wildland Fire 24, 162–169.

Moore ML, Tjornbo O, Enfors E, Knapp C, Hodbod J, Baggio JA, Norström A, Olsson P, Biggs D (2014) Studying the complexity of change: toward an analytical framework for understanding deliberate social–ecological transformations. Ecology and Society 19, 54
Studying the complexity of change: toward an analytical framework for understanding deliberate social–ecological transformations.CrossRef | open url image1

Morehouse BJ, O’Brien S, Christopherson G, Johnson P (2010) Integrating values and risk perceptions into a decision support system. International Journal of Wildland Fire 19, 123–136.
Integrating values and risk perceptions into a decision support system.CrossRef | open url image1

Paine MS (1997) Doing it together; technology as practice in the New Zealand dairy sector. PhD thesis, Wageningen University, NL.

Paschen JA, Beilin R (2015) Avoiding the certainty trap: a research program for the policy–practice interface. Environment and Planning. C, Government & Policy 33, 1394–1411.
Avoiding the certainty trap: a research program for the policy–practice interface.CrossRef | open url image1

Paschen JA, Beilin R (2016) Resilience multiple – sounding a call for responsible practice. Dialogues in Human Geography 6, 41–44.
Resilience multiple – sounding a call for responsible practice.CrossRef | open url image1

Paschen JA, Ison RL (2014) Narrative research in climate change adaptation – exploring a complementary paradigm for research and governance. Research Policy 43, 1083–1092.
Narrative research in climate change adaptation – exploring a complementary paradigm for research and governance.CrossRef | open url image1

Paton D, McClure J, Bürgelt PT (2006) Natural hazard resilience: the role of individual and household preparedness. In ‘Disaster resilience: an integrated approach.’ (Eds D Paton, D Johnston) (Charles C. Thomas: Springfield, IL.)

Pelling M, Manuel-Navarrete D (2011) From resilience to transformation: the adaptive cycle in two Mexican urban centres. Ecology and Society 16, 11–21.

Rijke J, Brown R, Zevenbergen C, Ashley R, Farrelly M, Morison P, van Herk S (2012) Fit-for-purpose governance: a framework to make adaptive governance operational. Environmental Science & Policy 22, 73–84.
Fit-for-purpose governance: a framework to make adaptive governance operational.CrossRef | open url image1

Schön D (1995) Knowing-in-action: the new scholarship requires a new epistemology. Change 27, 27–34.
Knowing-in-action: the new scholarship requires a new epistemology.CrossRef | open url image1

Schön DA, Rein M (1994) ‘Frame reflection: toward the resolution of intractable policy controversies.’ (Basic Books: New York, NY)

Shrader-Frechette K (1995) Evaluating the expertise of experts. Risk 6, 115–126.

Slovic P (1999) Trust, emotion, sex, politics, and science: surveying the risk-assessment battlefield. Risk Analysis 19, 689–701.
Trust, emotion, sex, politics, and science: surveying the risk-assessment battlefield.CrossRef | 1:STN:280:DC%2BD3c3ivVagtw%3D%3D&md5=0772c398fa7f6238b1c761de570d7727CAS | open url image1

Slovic P, Finucane M, Peters E, MacGregor DG (2004) Risk as analysis and risk as feelings: some thoughts about affect, reason, risk and rationality. Risk Analysis 24, 311–322.
Risk as analysis and risk as feelings: some thoughts about affect, reason, risk and rationality.CrossRef | open url image1

Stirling A (2014) Emancipating transformations: from controlling ‘the transition’ to culturing plural radical progress. In STEPS Working Paper 64 (STEPS Centre: Brighton)

Stone-Jovicich S (2015) Probing the interfaces between the social sciences and social-ecological resilience: insights from integrative and hybrid perspectives in the social sciences. Ecology and Society 20, 25
Probing the interfaces between the social sciences and social-ecological resilience: insights from integrative and hybrid perspectives in the social sciences.CrossRef | open url image1

Teschl M, Comim F (2005) Adaptive preferences and capabilities: some preliminary conceptual explorations. Review of Social Economy 63, 229–247.
Adaptive preferences and capabilities: some preliminary conceptual explorations.CrossRef | open url image1

Tolhurst KG, Shields B, Chong D (2008) PHOENIX: development and application of a bushfire risk management tool. Australian Journal of Emergency Management 23, 47–54.

Tulloch J, Lupton D (2003) ‘Risk and everyday life.’ (Sage: London)

Turnhout E, Van Bommel S, Aarts N (2010) How participation creates citizens: participatory governance as performative practice. Ecology and Society 15, 26

VBRC (2010) The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission final report – recommendations. The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. Parliament of Victoria, Australia. http://www.royalcommission.vic.gov.au/Assets/VBRC-Final-Report-Recommendations.pdf

Wagenaar H (2011) ‘Meaning in action: interpretation and dialogue in policy analysis’ (M.E. Sharpe: Armonk, NY)

Wagenaar H, Wilkinson C (2015) Enacting resilience: a performative account of governing for urban resilience. Urban Studies 52, 1265–1284.
Enacting resilience: a performative account of governing for urban resilience.CrossRef | open url image1

Walker J, Cooper M (2011) Genealogies of resilience: from systems ecology to the political economy of crisis adaptation. Security Dialogue 42, 143–160.
Genealogies of resilience: from systems ecology to the political economy of crisis adaptation.CrossRef | open url image1

Walker B, Salt D (2006) ‘Resilience thinking: sustaining ecosystems and people in a changing world.’ (Island Press: Washington, DC)

Walker B, Gunderson L, Kinzig A, Folke C, Carpenter S, Schultz L (2006) A handful of heuristics and some propositions for understanding resilience in social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society 11, 13 [online].

Welsh M (2014) Resilience and responsibility: governing uncertainty in a complex world. The Geographical Journal 180, 15–26.
Resilience and responsibility: governing uncertainty in a complex world.CrossRef | open url image1

Wenger E (1998) ‘Communities of practice: learning, meaning and identity.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK)

Yanow D (2007) Interpretation in policy analysis: on methods and practice. Critical Policy Studies 1, 110–122.

Zinn JO (2008) Introduction: the contribution of sociology to the discourse of risk and uncertainty. In ‘Social theories of risk and uncertainty: an introduction’. (Ed. JO Zinn) pp. 1–15. (Blackwell Publishing: Oxford, UK)

Zinn JO (2015) Towards a better understanding of risk-taking: key concepts, dimensions and perspectives. Health, Risk & Society 17, 99–114.
Towards a better understanding of risk-taking: key concepts, dimensions and perspectives.CrossRef | open url image1



Export Citation