From 'flood defence' to 'flood risk management': Exploring governance, responsibility, and blame

  • Butler C
  • Pidgeon N
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In the UK there has been a gradual transition in both the framing of flooding as a policy issue and the strategies employed to achieve policy objectives. This has involved a widely recognised shift from policies of ‘flood defence’ to ‘flood risk management’ (FRM), entailing both changes in approaches to FRM—such as greater advocacy of soft flood management approaches—and redistributions of responsibility—including more emphasis on the responsibilities of private citizens. In this paper, we utilise interviews with professionals working in flood risk (total participant n = 44) and discussion groups (participant n = 50) with public(s) that live in one of three UK cities which experienced major flooding in 2007 (Sheffield, Oxford, Gloucester) to examine some of the ways in which these policy transitions are being defined, negotiated, and contested. Drawing on governmentality theory, we reexamine contemporary shifts in FRM and open up discussion around the potential for emergent difficulties connected to the contemporary emphasis on relations of responsibility.

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