Urban resilience for whom, what, when, where, and why?

Sara Meerow, Joshua P. Newell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

439 Scopus citations


In academic and policy discourse, the concept of urban resilience is proliferating. Social theorists, especially human geographers, have rightfully criticized that the underlying politics of resilience have been ignored and stress the importance of asking “resilience of what, to what, and for whom?” This paper calls for careful consideration of not just resilience for whom and what, but also where, when, and why. A three-phase process is introduced to enable these “five Ws” to be negotiated collectively and to engender critical reflection on the politics of urban resilience as plans, initiatives, and projects are conceived, discussed, and implemented. Deployed through the hypothetical case of green infrastructure in Los Angeles, the paper concludes by illustrating how resilience planning trade-offs and decisions affect outcomes over space and time, often with significant implications for equity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalUrban Geography
StateAccepted/In press - Jul 14 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • adaptation
  • green infrastructure
  • social-ecological systems
  • Urban resilience
  • urban sustainability
  • vulnerability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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