The Everyday Resilience of the City

Description and Timescale: The Everyday Resilience of the City: how provincial cities respond to threat was a multi-disciplinary programme of research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) between 2005-07 which aimed to provide fresh insights into security challenges facing UK cities and regions. This was undertaken through studies in environmental, economic and human security, and through engagement with relevant stakeholders, policy makers and user groups.

Project summary: ‘Resilience’ & ‘Risk’ are increasingly important in urban policy. The move towards developing ‘urban resilience’ has involved what some describe as a militarization or securitisation of urban space.  Whilst this is not a new urban phenomenon recent urban terror events have signalled a ‘surge’ in this direction.  This project added to the growing body of research funded by the ESRC’s ‘New Security Challenges’ programme and empirically examined the impact and growth of current anti-terrorism and crime measures, and civil contingencies legislation, which are being adopted and utilised by urban institutions in the United Kingdom.

We undertook an analysis of the different arrangements of associated governance schemes and strategies; drawing from the experiences of a global city which has experienced significant terrorist attack (London), and applying this context to a large regional conurbation which has been periodically at risk (Manchester & the North West) and a medium to small provincial conurbation at relatively low risk (Newcastle upon Tyne & the North East). From the empirical evidence, we constructed a typology of everyday resilience which helped our understanding of  policies and legislation linked to the resilience of our cities which have been adopted in different ways in different UK cities and regions; the reasons why such policies are adopted; the impacts and implications of the adoption of new technologies and strategies; the linkages between securitisation and the competition between cities for global capital; and what such findings mean for new security challenges facing cities and civil society.

Lead partners; this project was run by Jon Coaffee (University of Birmingham – then University of Manchester, UK) and David Murakami Wood (Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada –  then University of Newcastle, UK).

Supporting partners: User engagement was central to this research. By engaging key policy makers and practitioners, across national, regional and local levels, we contributed to the sharing of knowledge across layers of governance offering new insights into how notions of resilience are viewed and operationalised across a range of professional and community groupings.

Key outputs:

  • Coaffee. J. and Rogers, P. (2009) Rebordering the city for new security challenges: From Counter Terrorism to Community Resilience, in Rumford, C. (ed) Citizens and Borderwork in Contemporary Europe, Routeldge, 101-118
  • Coaffee, J., Murkami-Wood, D and Rogers, P. (2008) The Everyday Resilience of the City: How Cities Respond to Terrorism and Disaster, Palgrave/Macmillian
  • Coaffee, J. and Rogers, P. (2008) Rebordering the city for new security challenges: From Counter Terrorism to Community Resilience, Space and Polity, 12, 2, 101-118
  • Coaffee, J. and Murakami Wood, D (2006) ‘Security is coming home – Rethinking scale and constructing resilience in the global urban response to terrorist risk, International Relations  20(4) 503-17
  • Coaffee, J. (2006) ‘From counter-terrorism to resilience’, European Legacy – Journal of the International Society for the study of European Ideas (ISSEI) 11.4, 389-403
  • Coaffee, J. (2008) Security planning in the resilient city, in Bosher, L (ed) Hazards and the Built Environment: addressing Disaster, Risk Reduction in Construction, Taylor and Francis, pp.300-317
  • Coaffee, J. and Murakami Wood, D. (2008) Terrorism and Surveillance, in Hall, T, et al, The SAGE Companion to the city, Sage, London pp.352-372.
  • Murakami Wood, D. and Coaffee, J. (2007) ‘Lockdown! Resilience, Resurgence and the Stage-set City’, in R. Atkinson and G. Helms (ed.) Securing the Urban Renaissance, Bristol: Policy Press, pp.91-106

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