Building Disaster Resilience on the Edge of Chaos: A Systems Critique on Mechanistic Global Disaster Reduction Policies, Frameworks and Models

  • Christo Coetzee
  • Dewald van NiekerkEmail author
  • Leandri Kruger
Part of the Environmental Hazards book series (ENHA)


Since the dawn of the renaissance scientific inquiry has been guided by a mechanistic view of the world. Accordingly, the understanding of scientific theories, natural environments and human interactions under this paradigm has always aimed to simplify complex ideas as a means to facilitate greater understanding and innovation. Although this paradigm has undoubtedly served humanity well, there is an increasing realisation that a mechanistic view of the world does not provide a complete understanding of phenomena that are subject to dynamic change. This is especially true of human-environmental systems such as disaster resilience that are constantly altered through their mutual interaction between humans and their specific disaster risk contexts. This chapter argues that in spite of this reality, the mechanistic paradigm, and the linear reasoning associated with it, still dominates the theories and policies aimed at understanding and building disaster resilience and reducing disaster risks. It is argued that the presence of this type of reasoning places a lesser importance on understanding contextually specific variables and their effect on resilience profiles as well as the dynamic interaction that subsume disaster resilience. This often leads to very shallow and oversimplified understandings of disaster resilience.


Resilience Edge of chaos Complexity Systems theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christo Coetzee
    • 1
  • Dewald van Niekerk
    • 2
    Email author
  • Leandri Kruger
    • 1
  1. 1.Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, African Centre for Disaster StudiesNorth-West UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa
  2. 2.African Centre for Disaster StudiesNorth-West UniversityVanderbijlparkSouth Africa

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