Contested Spaces, Diverse Places: Socio-Cultural Diversity and Weather-Related Hazard Mitigation Policy in Contemporary Rural Scotland

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 4A KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Irena CONNON, University of Dundee, United Kingdom
While scholars working within the fields of climate change mitigation have moved beyond referring indistinctively to different socio-cultural groups, it can be argued that recent UK government hazard mitigation initiatives, like many other centrally-controlled hazard response developments, continues to lag behind in terms of consideration of the socio-cultural diversity embedded within contemporary rural communities that shapes local residents’ responses to extreme weather hazard events and hazard mitigation policy strategies. With extreme weather-related hazard events becoming more severe, the Scottish Government has focused on increasing the adaptive capacity of rural communities through initiatives aimed at establishing local resilience committees with responsibility for devising practical strategies to protect local citizens in the event of weather related incidents. However, the appropriateness of these initiatives for mitigating the effects of extreme weather events in contemporary communities can be questioned because they are can be argued to be underpinned by outdated assumptions about the demographic and cultural character of rural Scottish communities. In effect, this not only disempowers certain groups of local residents in their abilities to shape storm response policy development, but detracts from the practical effectiveness of local ‘informal’ coping strategies already embedded within local contexts.  Yet, at the same time, the increasingly diverse character of rural Scotland demonstrates some need for a more formal  response procedure than what can be afforded by sole reliance upon ‘informal’ local strategies and ‘traditional’ adaptation measures. Using empirical evidence derived from ethnographic research examining experiences of storm responses and policy-driven initiatives from three Scottish rural communities, this paper reveals how rural experiences of weather-related hazards and mitigation policy developments are both ground upon and affected by wider cultural, socio-economic and political factors, which are not evenly distributed within each individual locality, but which are not fully incorporated into the frameworks of existing mitigation policy.