Rhetorics of Resilience and Extended Crises: Reasoning in the Moral Situation of Our Post-Pandemic World

Springer Nature (2022)
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Abstract

This chapter looks closely at the use of resilience as a value in pandemic discourses, and particularly at how it reflects the moral complexity of the situation the pandemic presents: an extended crisis where shocks and stressors interact and have an uncertain end. We review key aspects of how resilience has been conceptualised, generally speaking, focusing on its normative implications. Insofar as resilience is suggested as a goal, or used to evaluate individuals, groups and systems, the rhetorical use of resilience in the pandemic has moral implications that we unpack. Asking questions such as resilience to what, of what, and for whom, drives our analysis of the multiple scales at which morally relevant factors must be considered, in terms of distance and certainty, and across space and over time. Further, we highlight the importance of particularly challenging, intersecting scales both within and beyond the pandemic, such as the interaction between other- and self-regarding concerns and the tension between transformation and conservation, as we consider when to take up opportunities for improving ourselves, our society and our systems, in times of extended crises and radical change. Given that a ‘return to normal’ is neither universally desirable nor likely, we recommend in this chapter ways to address resilience as a value that can shape approaches to policy and behaviour while also being explicit about the normative—evaluative and also prescriptive—implications of its use.

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