D1.4 Model for assessing and enhancing societal resilience

Executive summary

This deliverable is aimed to construct a theoretical framework presented as a model to both
enhance and assess societal resilience. This model should enable the project to understand how
ordinary people participate in disaster management by coping on an individual and a collective
level. By being able to map and analyse citizen’s coping actions, this model makes it possible to
examine specific solutions to enhance the interactions between social actors and disaster
professionals and thus make societies more resilient.

The theoretical approach is grounded in a series of case studies of past adverse events in which
coping actions from social actors were identified by document analysis and interviews. This
analysis notably showed the limited interactions between formal and informal disaster governance.
This relative autonomy of informal actors corresponds to specific coping actions patterns.
First, what we found across the cases is that informal actors are focused on one main task, that
once it is completed satisfactorily (e.g., fixate an assailant), another task may follow. Anticipation
of the tasks is not centralised and comprehensively structured.

Second, there seems to be minimal coordination among informal actors immediately after or
during the event.

Third, comparing cases that focus on the emergency phase, the informants report using a “tunnel
vision” aspect that lets them focus on one particular task.

Fourth, there seems to be a commonality across the case studies of acting on reflex during sudden

Fifth, an interesting question of obeying (or not obeying) authorities during a crisis arises from the
case studies, since in several cases informal actors acted against advice of official disaster

Sixth, our findings, including also the case studies that cover the post-emergency phases, refine
the conceptualisation of emerging groups. Our findings show that it is more a matter of
reconfigured groups responding to a need that is outside their normal missions than new groups

Seventh, the case studies show how ordinary people use competencies acquired from their current
or previous positions and experiences, which are translated into adapting to the exceptional
situation they are facing.
Eighth, the case study analyses show that there is a need for linguistic categories that recognise
the different roles people assume during various crises.
Ninth, rather than providing a definitive and universal list of what factors from a larger social
context determine if people cope with a crisis successfully, the case studies enable us to isolate
factors that show how social contexts impact on resilience in specific cases.
These elements helped us to test and refine our model for assessing and enhancing societal