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11 - Conclusions: the politics of crisis exploitation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 June 2010

Arjen Boin
Affiliation:
Stephenson Disaster Management and Public Administration Institute, Louisiana State University
Paul 't Hart
Affiliation:
Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, and Utrecht School of Governance, Utrecht University
Allan McConnell
Affiliation:
Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney
Arjen Boin
Affiliation:
Louisiana State University
Allan McConnell
Affiliation:
University of Sydney
Paul 't Hart
Affiliation:
Australian National University, Canberra
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Summary

Crisis aftermaths as framing contests

Crises cast shadows on the polities in which they occur. The sense of threat and uncertainty that pervades them shatters people's understanding of the world around them. Scholars have argued that the very occurrence of a crisis or the widespread use of the ‘crisis’ label to denote a particular state of affairs or development implies a ‘dislocation’ of hitherto dominant social, political or administrative discourses (Wagner-Pacifici 1986, 1994; Howarth et al. 2000). This dislocation can delegitimise the power and authority relationships that these discourses underpin, and may pose grave challenges to the position of incumbent officeholders and institutions or to established policies and organisations. At the same time, crisis opens up semantic and political space for actors to redefine issues, propose new policies, foster public reflection, or simply to gain popularity and strike at opponents. Typically, such opportunism rides on the wave of crisis-induced processes of accountability and learning.

Edelman was right in pointing out that incumbent elites are not necessarily threatened by crises. Some disturbances or emergencies may fit their purposes quite neatly. They may actively seek to ‘create’ crises in order to gain authority. He observes with characteristic succinctness: ‘Any regime that prides itself on crisis management is sure to find crises to manage’ (Edelman 1977: 47). But the same goes for the other end of the political power spectrum: parliamentary opposition figures, interest group leaders and self-appointed public voices may actively work to ‘discover’ and inflate crises.

Type
Chapter
Information
Governing after Crisis
The Politics of Investigation, Accountability and Learning
, pp. 285 - 316
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2008

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  • Conclusions: the politics of crisis exploitation
    • By Arjen Boin, Stephenson Disaster Management and Public Administration Institute, Louisiana State University, Paul 't Hart, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, and Utrecht School of Governance, Utrecht University, Allan McConnell, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney
  • Edited by Arjen Boin, Louisiana State University, Allan McConnell, University of Sydney, Paul 't Hart, Australian National University, Canberra
  • Book: Governing after Crisis
  • Online publication: 04 June 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511756122.011
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  • Conclusions: the politics of crisis exploitation
    • By Arjen Boin, Stephenson Disaster Management and Public Administration Institute, Louisiana State University, Paul 't Hart, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, and Utrecht School of Governance, Utrecht University, Allan McConnell, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney
  • Edited by Arjen Boin, Louisiana State University, Allan McConnell, University of Sydney, Paul 't Hart, Australian National University, Canberra
  • Book: Governing after Crisis
  • Online publication: 04 June 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511756122.011
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Conclusions: the politics of crisis exploitation
    • By Arjen Boin, Stephenson Disaster Management and Public Administration Institute, Louisiana State University, Paul 't Hart, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University, and Utrecht School of Governance, Utrecht University, Allan McConnell, Department of Government and International Relations, University of Sydney
  • Edited by Arjen Boin, Louisiana State University, Allan McConnell, University of Sydney, Paul 't Hart, Australian National University, Canberra
  • Book: Governing after Crisis
  • Online publication: 04 June 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511756122.011
Available formats
×