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People are being asked by governments and their corporate cohorts to become more resilient; to power down, be more frugal and build resilience against the impacts of climate change and peak oil. Yet, there is little sign that governments or their industry fellows are powering down; so what does resilience really mean? Resilience is touted as a suitable method for bringing about optimism and averting a sense of helplessness in adverse situations and it has strong connections with positive psychology. However, distancing ourselves from serious problems does not bring about change. Resilience places the

responsibility for a sick world onto the individual and then demands they accept it not change it. Not only can resilience be seen as plagued with elitism and self-interest it can hide a myriad of heinous crimes carried out against the Other. Resilience can lead to repression and render the

inability to voice protest. This in turn exacerbates any long term traumas. Giving voice to a problem has been the conventional way for dealing with difficulties, but it can be time consuming and expensive, yet being voiceless is the same as being invisible and oppressed. Boundary Objects. Resilience is a boundary object. Boundary objects bridge the tensions between conflicting ideas and they can alter the way we view the world. Boundary objects are things that connect other things. Resilience is a transcendental phenomenon that combines with a material perception of what resilience ought to be. Put differently, resilience is a peripheral

perception made subjective in the false belief that it will solve the worlds problems. Resilience is an is/ought problem previously articulated by David Hume, the Scottish philosopher and historian [17111776]. The is/ought situation takes place when somebody makes a statement about what is and assumes from it what ought to be and thus takes the pathway from observation to proposition. The is/ought conundrum is an ongoing philosophical issue that greatly affects human perspectives of the world. Ought sits at the nucleus of boundary objects. One of the key concepts of sustainability is resilience. Borrowed from a number of disciplines that includes metallurgy, physics and ecological science, the word resilience has taken on dimensions that are heuristic, metaphorical and ambiguous and which shift the clarity and meaning of the word. Conceived from within the scientific genre,

resilience has gained a wide perspective linking it with complex social and ecological systems, but no clear definition of social resilience is available. Rather, resilience is predicated on a series of ideas about how to read complex systems and systems theory. Resilience therefore becomes a

catalyst linking a number of ideas and objectives without ever having to reach a pivotal point of agreement. Nor does it give consideration to the differing needs and aspirations of those who are being asked to embrace resilience. This in turn imprisons the human way of thinking and it leads to errors. Boundary objects are politically very effective for alluding to a general consensus because they soften the exact meaning of terms. Boundary objects operate collectively to deliberately blur the lines of comprehension, especially when they come from past mythologies and become embedded into current discourses. Boundary objects highlight the positive elements contained in the word without revealing the ambiguities. It is for this

reason that boundary objects are frequently used to bridge the gap between science and policy.1 In addition, the wide range of interpretations offered by boundary objects lends opportunity for a power relation to be arbitrarily attributed to a word giving it both legitimacy and leverage to a more elusive authority.2 The word resilience comes from the 1620 Latin resilens which meant to rebound, recoil or bounce.3 Neuro-psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Boris Cyrulnik [1937] is regarded as the first person to have used resilience in the psychological context. He drew on his own experiences to find a precise interpretation. For Cyrulnik resilience explains being able to extricate oneself from the past in order to recover from injury; otherwise to bounce back.4 Not everyone bounces back! Resilience is tied to the ability to learn to live with ongoing fear and uncertainty and to gain the ability to show positive adaptation in spite of significant life-world adversities.

It does

not deal with the adversities. The point about boundary objects is they are free-floating and able to contain messages and meanings we may not agree

E.Turnhout [2009] The effectiveness of boundary objects: the case of ecological indicators. In Science and Public Policy June 2009 36 [5] 403-412 and www.fnp.wur.nl/.../Turnhout2009boundaryobjectsScienceandPublicPolicy Retrieved 29th April 2011. Ibid. Collins English Dictionary, [1979] Sydney, Collins Publishers. Cyrulnik B [2012] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Cyrulnik Retrieved 29th April 2011. D. Meichenbaum [2011] Understanding Resilience in Children and Adults. The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment. Mianmi, Florida. www.milissainstitute.org/documents/resiliencechildren.pdf Retrieved 29th April 2011.

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with if they were disseminated more clearly. For this reason boundary objects suit the pertaining interests of those who use them. Boundary

objects hold us in stasis creating their own chain of signifiers and like other cognitive behavioral schemas, in order to maintain the feeling of satisfaction we get from boundary objects we need to keep increasing our purchase. Boundary objects therefore can easily lead to obsessions, aversions, fantasies and addictions and they never address what is. Current notions of resilience find their roots in ecology, positive psychology and religion. In 1973 C.S. Holling defined ecological resilience as a measure of the persistence of systems and of their ability to absorb change and disturbance and still maintain the same relationships between populations or state variables.6 The meaning of resilience was later extended by a theory of complexity where the hierarchical structure of ecosystems is primarily regulated by a small set of plant, animal, and abiotic processes each operating over different scale ranges.7 The

understanding of these systems is obtained by analysis of a few samples and their critical structures to ascertain how much disturbance is absorbed before the structure changes. The equilibrium of the eco-system therefore is dependent on fairly consistent characteristics. In the social sphere

resilience must also maintain a level of consistency, a mediocrity or equilibrium relative to feedback. Boundary objects are an intrinsic component in late capitalisms aesthetic mode, which focuses on selective learning and carefully contrived

C. S. Holling [1973] Resilience and stability of ecological systems in Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 4:1-23. And, F. S. Brand and K. Jax. 2007. Focusing the meaning(s) of resilience: resilience as a descriptive concept and a boundary object. Ecology and Society 12[1]: 23. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol12/iss1/art23/ Retrieved 29th April, 2011. Ibid.

prescriptions for socialization and market adaptation.

Boundary objects

are thus the new strategy for creating false consciousness. Put simply, nature, sustainability, transition and resilience are all terms that act as connectors and they form part of a potentially infinite array of other terms that collapse into them. This does not make them bad. It simply means they have no fixed outcomes and it is a mistake to see them as linear or meaningful. The Propaganda. The notion of resilience has historical links with political propaganda. Resilience was used as a form of symbolic power during the Second World War, whereby the word resilience became a way of injecting stoicism and patriotism into the European populations. In France resilience was

encouraged through passive resistance against the German occupation. After the Germans had plundered the nations food stocks there were horrific shortages and endemic malnutrition. Lack of fuels and fertilizers meant farmers could not produce enough crops, when they did produce the Germans seized about 20% of all the food that was available.


French people built their resilience by creating a black economy. Farm gate purchases and bartering increased the rate of calories in the diet, which had been set by the government at near starvation levels.

It also

E. M. Collingham [2011] The Taste of War: World War Two and the Battle for Food and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_occupation_of_France_during_World_War _II Retrieved 29th April 2011. T. Mour [2011] Food Rationing and the Black Market in France [19401944] pp 262-282 and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_occupation_of_France_during_World_War _II Retrieved 29th April 2011.

reduced the amount of produce available for the open market.

The self-

help paradigm was never fully relinquished. Resilience allowed future governments to abrogate their responsibilities or pass them on to local authorities. In Britain a similar situation occurred. During the Second World War people were asked to make sacrifices in an effort to stop a German invasion. Households gave up their jewelry, their pots and pans and anything else that could be melted down for weaponry. Britain also had a

black market in food and small luxuries, but it did not serve those who needed it most. People with something to exchange or the best negotiating powers had the highest levels of resilience. Once again, as time moved on, leaders drew on British resilience to initiate massive cuts to social programs. After the Second World War researchers looked to find ways of increasing resilience in the population. It became an important question during the post-War reconstruction. The answers were drawn from the

War experiences of British children. Children accounted for one in ten deaths in the bombing of London, two million children were evacuated from their homes. The impact on children was phenomenal, but so too was their level of resilience and it prompted researchers to investigate what it was that gives rise to these hidden strengths in such formidable circumstances. In the 1950s educational reformers were set the task of guiding and institutionalizing resilience. underscoring this:
1. The delivery of systems required for modern industrial economies. 2. The constraint of the dissident working classes. 3. The corporate uniformity of business values and the educational state.

There were several aims

4. The transformation of all complex social relations into an impersonal docile consumer society. 10

Resilience has no criteria for resolving problematic social and political relations. Resilience goes hand-in-hand with subordination and cheap, exploited labor, which are currently high on the late capitalist agenda. Moreover, resilience resonates with socio-biology, which implies the neoDarwinist route to adaptation. In this respect resilience has been reformulated in the hope of replacing resistance.


H. Gintis [1976] Towards a Political Economy of Education: A radical critique of Ivan Illichs Deschooling Society in Schooling and Capitalism. [Eds.] R.Dale, G. Esland and M. MacDonald, London, Open University Press, Routledge and Paul Kegan, pp8-20.