Resilience and the transformation of sovereign security: a look at policy challenges and interests

Jan Pospisil, Barbara Gruber

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Resilience is on the rise in security policies, at the international as well as at the national level. Current academic research often links resilience with either the neoliberal retreat of the state and the respective attempt of ‘governing from a distance’, or with an almost totalitarian grasp of ‘resilient subjects’, or both. Against the background of the application of resilience in UK security policy, this article argues that resilience does neither of these. Instead, it unfolds as a rather mundane endeavour focused on micro-practices of civil emergency response at the local level. In doing so, resilience enables the repackaging of ‘unbound security’, which was doomed to fail in delivering its promise. It is, however, neither offering another promise nor symbolising a retreat from state responsibility, but engages in a defensive micro-management of potential catastrophe. Resilience hence does not replace security as a practice of the state deriving from its sovereignty, but links up with it to create a nexus between the doable and the undoable, the resilience-security-nexus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-216
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Resilience-security-nexus
  • UK resilience policy
  • sovereign security
  • resilient subjects


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