Consequences of the Ambiguous Relationship Between State and Societal Actors in the Management of Risks and Crises

Friday, July 18, 2014: 5:54 PM
Room: Booth 48
Oral Presentation
Claude GILBERT , CNRS, Grenoble Cedex 9, France

In France, public policy risk prevention and crisis management still rely on the state. A role is assigned to local authorities and civil society. But only the state appears to have the ability to prevent risks and cope with exceptional situations. More disasters are considered, more state intervention is legitimate. The representatives of the state attach importance to these powers (corresponding to the "state of emergency").

The predominance of the state in the field of risk and crisis is however being challenged. First for economic reasons : central governments no longer have resources to support alone public policy in this area. A divorce occurred between formal capacity and actual capacity of the state (in particular during disasters). Second, for political reasons : local authorities (in particular in the major cities) and a part of civil society (in particular firms) want to play a role in defining policies they help to finance. Third for “societal reasons” : disasters can no longer justify the interruption of democracy.

We begin to accept the idea that the state can not be the only or the main actor to manage risks and crises. Reflections on resilience are intended, including by officials, to promote the involvement of other actors in society. But politicians and admistratifs want both transfer a part of their responsabiitÚs while keeping control of risk and crisis management. There is an ambiguity that local authorities and other actors of civil society help to maintain : if they want to play a more important role, they do not want to assume state responsibilities .


The question central of this paper is to know what  are the effects of this ambiguous situation in the effective management of risks and crises (especially from the example of pandemic influenza threats).