Introduction: Governing for urban resilience

Author(s): Beilin, R., C. Wilkinson
In: Urban Studies 52: 1205–1217.
Year: 2015
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Urban
Full reference: Beilin, R., C. Wilkinson. 2015. Introduction: Governing for urban resilience. Urban Studies 52: 1205–1217.


There is urgency afoot to acknowledge the disconnection between ecological realities and the persistence of past ways of constructing the social, as if it is in isolation from the ecological. The urban is the common ground: an endlessly burgeoning, frequently contested home to spaces, institutions and people.

‘Governing for urban resilience’ brings together research that considers the meaningfulness and possibilities inherent in conceptualising and implementing social-ecological resilience as a process for radical social change and offering a lens for connecting these urban narratives. The urban is then acknowledged as a site of heightened complexity, harbouring diverse social and ecological realities and imaginative potential.

The Special Issue challenges past ways of ordering and limiting the city, while building on more recent interpretations of it as interwoven processes associated with enhancing connectivity – whether ecosystems or social networks. Four themes emerge from the articles: locating action; using scale to interrogate and facilitate change; acknowledging the asymmetry of power relations in order to focus on social justice as critical to change; and incorporating local knowledge and the catalytic force of memory to assist that change.

The papers have applied the ideas of resilience and social-ecological resilience to their existing urban research, asking, in the main, whether this lens assists us to know more about what has occurred in the case studies. Overall, the outcomes suggest the strengths and weaknesses of policies and projects and in some cases the potentially transformative processes that encourage a social-ecological resilience framing for future research.


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