Resilience Planning in an Era of Neoliberalism

Research Theme: Cities, Communities and Contested Urbanism
Supervisors: Dr Phil Boland ( and Dr. Stephen McKay (

In an era of neoliberalism and rapacious economic turbulence there is significant theoretical and policy emphasis on building resilient economies (Coaffee and Clarke, 2015; Christopherson et al., 2010; Hudson, 2010; Pike et al., 2010; Shaw and Maythorne, 2012; Simmie and Martin, 2010; Martin, and Sunley, 2015). However, in comparison the literature on planning and resilience is in its embryonic stages (Davoudi et al., 2012; Fainstein, 2015; Mahmood, 2015; Raco and Street, 2012). It is true that resilience is an ‘extraordinarily popular’ yet ‘contested’, ‘fuzzy’, ‘ambiguous’ buzzword (Fainstein, 2015; Mehmood, 2015; Pizzo, 2015; Shaw and Maythorne, 2012). In addition, it is regarded as a ‘promising’ yet ‘problematic’ concept for city planning (Pizzo, 2015; Vale, 2014). This project focuses on excavating, analysing and problematising the role of resilience in planning theory and practice in an era of neoliberalism. Specifically, the investigation would seek to develop a normative model to enable the planning system to respond to the negative impacts of social and economic turbulence. The project will be focused on a set of key case studies from the UK and Ireland, and is framed by important research questions:

  1. How is resilience understood and operationalised by professional planners?
  2. What are the key drivers of resilience planning?
  3. What is the relationship between neoliberalism, planning and resilience?
  4. What lessons can be learned from different cities in their approaches to resilience planning?

How to Apply