On ‘Perception Patterns': Framing Subjective and Objectified Risks in the Planning Process for (more) Resilient Cities

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal 46 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Martin VOSS, Freie Universität Berlin, Disaster Research Unit, Germany
Kristina SEIDELSOHN, Freie Universitat Berlin, Disaster Research Unit, Germany
Daniela KRUGER, Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany
Environmental change and the city’s climate reinforce one another; visible through an increase of diverse physical hazards like droughts, floods, heat and air pollution etc. (Hagen 2011: 312). Next to these, European cities are confronted with social challenges rooted in increasing social inequality, socio-cultural heterogenisation and a pluralisation of lifestyles (Heitmeyer/Anhut 2000). However, conventional understandings of risks and the related, specific vulnerabilities are seen as objectifiable or rather objectively evidenced. Thus, it is assumed that the targets for planning are unambiguous and indisputably defined. Instead, we argue that  these targets are mainly defined by the most influential actors while the most vulnerable remain unconsidered. This has a negative impact on the overall resilience of the city. We assume that the integration of the subjective dimension of risks and (in)security potentially increases the “participative capacity” (Voss 2008) of the most vulnerable  within  security-related planning process for a resilient city. Exclusions from planning processes and deficient scopes for participation of urban residents are produced in the forefront via discourses and its dispositives (Foucault 1978) that eventually lead into social conflicts in a diverse urban population through perceived unequal access to security. On the other hand, these discourses can lead to self-exclusions of the ‘objectively’ most vulnerable, e.g. those who modify their own vulnerability as ‘simply subjective’ or ‘self-inflicted’. These effects reproduce the relative social positions of the socially marginalized in medium- and in the long-term (Bourdieu 1987). Since actor-centred studies (e.g. Chamlee-Wright/Storr 2010) and research on institutional and governance structures for mitigating risk and disaster (e.g. Ahrens/Rudolph 2006) face each other unconnectedly in many cases, the subjective and objectified perception patterns will be brought together on the basis of an empirical investigation in two German mid-sized cities in order to advocate an advanced process for planning the resilient city.