Looking at emergent and multi-scale governance through the lens of community formation

Martin Mulligan*, Peter Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rising popularity of resilience discourses is polarising social science scholars, with many expressing the concern that appeals to resilience can be used to revitalise the otherwise sagging fortunes of neoliberal governmentality. Advocates of resilience policies and practices hope that the addition of the word 'community' can help resilience thinking answer the charge that it presents itself as being normatively neutral. However, the word 'community' is equally ambivalent and can be mobilised to serve radically different socio-political agendas. This article argues that a dynamic and multilayered understanding of community can ensure that resilience discourses will continue to pose difficult-to-answer questions about what resilience seeks to achieve and for whom. It follows suggestions that 'resilience thinking' may take us beyond the limits of neoliberal rationality by shifting the focus to contingent and emergent forms of governance. The interplay between individual agency and the creation of community can thus animate a theory of decentred, emergent and multilayered governance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-162
Number of pages18
JournalResilience : international policies, practices and discourses
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • community formation
  • emergence
  • governance

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