D1.1 – Preliminary model for assessing and methods form improving societal resilience

Executive summary

This deliverable summarizes the first results of eight case studies on societal resilience in order to collect data for conceptualizing a preliminary model for assessing societal resilience. It argues that spontaneous actions from citizens contribute to societal resilience and are not sufficiently integrated in existing models. Thus, its main purpose is to situate practices enabling resilience in a specific social context. This allows us to generate criteria for context sensitive solutions for improving societal resilience as a contribution to the overall aim of the ENGAGE project.

For constructing a robust model that fits the need for context sensitive disaster management, case studies from Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, Israel and Japan, were analyzed to highlight a variety of crisis situations ranging from terrorist attacks to industrial accidents to “natural” disasters like earthquakes, wildfires or flash floods including both large scale events and localized tragedies.

The methodology for generating this preliminary model is relying on document analyses of accounts of actions from citizens that contributed to societal resilience. A survey of grassroot experiences of emergent organizations from citizens based on data collected in interviews and focus groups is a second source for the model.

  • The deliverable introduces first the concept of “coping actions” to be able to identify citizen’s actions during crisis that contributed to cope with the situation.
  • Second, to understand the interactions between citizens and formal disaster management from authorities and first responders, these coping actions are then categorized depending on their degree of formalization. By formalization we refer to the integration of citizens and their coping action in planned disaster management.
  • Third, identifying these coping actions makes it then possible to understand the social conditions in which they take place.
  • Fourth, by systematizing transversal knowledge about the diversity of societal resilience across a variety of contexts – represented by the case studies – specific contextual aspects are identified to generate the preliminary model for assessing societal resilience.

The preliminary model proposed by this deliverable is built on seven main groups of situated contextual aspects.We distinguish therefore between contextual aspects that prepare citizens for a crisis from those that enable action in a specific crisis situation.

  • Spatial and temporal proximity,
  • social bonds and group membership,
  • trust and mistrust in formal disaster management,
  • level of alert and preparedness,
  • gendered roles and identities in crisis situations,
  • material conditions and socio-economic status
  • cultural conditions, values and bonds.

It further highlights that coping actions should be distinguished between their degree of formalization and their degree of organization in time.

This preliminary model provides hypotheses for the ongoing survey of grassroot experiences and lays the groundwork for task 1.4’s aim to construct a more advanced model for assessing societal resilience.