The Resilience Turn in German Development Strategy and Humanitarian Intervention

Jonathan Joseph

Global Cooperation Research Papers 20, Duisburg 2017

Keywords: Resilience, development, aid, policy, humanitarian, international relations, global development

DOI: 10.14282/2198-0411-GCRP-20


Resilience has emerged as a key theme in recent policy making. It spans a range of policy fields from infrastructure protection through to humanitarian intervention. This Research Paper looks at resilience as a theme of development strategy and humanitarian intervention and examines how it has emerged in German policy making. It argues that the dominant approach to resilience is a form of neoliberal governmentality that seeks to govern populations from a distance, devolve responsibility to people and communities, promote market mechanisms, encourage entrepreneurial behaviour and promote adaptation innovation and
transformation among traditional communities. However, it is also recognised that this is a strongly Anglo-Saxon approach, targeted at specific individuals and communities. The purpose of the paper is to consider the extent to which German policy making is simply a reflection of this dominant Anglo-Saxon approach, or whether there is a more distinctive German view of resilience. It does this by exploring tensions in the German discourse, indicating that there might be other political dynamics in play alongside the neoliberal ones.

The Author

Jonathan Joseph is Professor of International Relations at the University of Sheffield. He wrote this paper while a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research from January - June 2017. His books include 'Hegemony: A Realist Analysis' (Routledge 2002) and 'The Social in the Global: Social Theory, Governmentality and Global Politics' (Cambridge 2012). He has written a number of recent articles on the theme of resilience and has just completed a manuscript of 'Varieties of Resilience: Studies in Governmentality' (Cambridge forthcoming). He is starting on a new book exploring the relationship between resilience, wellbeing and sustainability.

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