Publication
Title
Economic inequality and institutional adaptation in response to flood hazards: a historical analysis
Author
Abstract
To adequately respond to crises, adaptive governance is crucial, but sometimes institutional adaptation is constrained, even when a society is faced with acute hazards. We hypothesize that economic inequality, defined as unequal ownership of wealth and access to resources, crucially interacts with the way institutions function and are adapted or not. Because the time span for societal responses may be lengthy, we use the historical record as a laboratory to test our hypothesis. In doing so, we focus on floods and water management infrastructure. The test area is one where flood hazards were very evidentthe Low Countries (present-day Netherlands and Belgium) in the premodern period (13001800)and we employ comparative analysis of three regions within this geographical area. We draw two conclusions: first, both equitable and inequitable societies can demonstrate resilience in the face of floods, but only if the institutions employed to deal with the hazard are suited to the distributive context. Institutions must change parallel to any changes in inequality. Second, we show that institutional adaptation was not inevitable, but also sometimes failed to occur. Institutional adaptation was never inevitably triggered by stimulus of a hazard, but dependent on socio-political context. Even when vital for the community under threat, adaptation only tended to occur when the vested interests of those with wealth, resources, and power were directly hit.
Language
English
Source (journal)
Ecology and society : a journal of integrative science for resilience and sustainability. - Ottawa, Ont., 2004, currens
Publication
Ottawa, Ont. : 2018
ISSN
1708-3087
Volume/pages
23 :4 (2018) , p. 1-17
Article Reference
30
ISI
000454653700024
Note
Artikel 30
Medium
E-only publicatie
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
Full text (open access)
UAntwerpen
Faculty/Department
Research group
Publication type
Subject
Affiliation
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Web of Science
Record
Identification
Creation 22.11.2018
Last edited 14.11.2021
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