Resilience as the policing of critique: A pragmatist way forward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


This article offers a critical review of the main conceptual readings of resilience as a prominent policy paradigm in international development, security, and disaster management. Focusing on neoliberal, biopolitical, cybernetic, and postliberal understandings, it probes the possibilities for engaging in a socially transformative critique of resilience. In particular, the article asks how the resilience discourse polices critique in a way that includes certain forms of knowledge, such as indigenous, local, and everyday knowledge, while excluding abstract theorising. What is considered authoritative knowledge in the resilience discourse? And what are the possibilities for opposing resilience if it ‘metabolizes critique into its internal dynamic’, as Jeremy Walker and Melinda Cooper famously argued? How does critique turn from a tool to undermine dominant knowledge-power regimes into a motor of governance? The article demonstrates that the more seriously we engage with the underlying ontology of resilience, the more difficult it becomes to formulate a critique that is not incorporated into governance. As a possible way forward, the article discusses Luc Boltanski's pragmatist sociology of critique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-160
Number of pages18
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number1
Early online date6 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.

This document is the author’s post-print version, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer-review process. Some differences between the published version and this version may remain and you are advised to consult the published version if you wish to cite from it.


  • Resilience
  • Critique
  • Governance
  • Neo-liberalism
  • Pragmatism


Dive into the research topics of 'Resilience as the policing of critique: A pragmatist way forward'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this