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Social inequality and marginalization in post-disaster recovery : Challenging the consensus?

  • Mark Kammerbauer
  • Christine Wamsler
Publishing year: 2017-09-01
Language: English
Pages: 411-418
Publication/Series: International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Volume: 24
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

Disasters and subsequent recovery efforts often reinforce social inequality and marginalization, hampering sustainable development paths. This paper presents an analysis of inequality and marginalization effects of post-disaster reconstruction from a risk governance perspective. Using a mixed-methods approach, we examine the Fischerdorf and Natternberg districts of the German city of Deggendorf, severely affected by the 2013 floods in Europe. The findings show that social inequality and marginalization affected housing reconstruction (and vice versa) in unexpected ways. Uninsured groups (such as the elderly and migrant homeowners) received prompt, ad-hoc support from state and civil society actors, while insured homeowners (mostly higher-income groups) experienced ongoing disputes between state and market actors that hampered their recovery. Some marginalized groups could not access state support, as various aspects of cultural diversity were not adequately considered. This fostered, and created new, patterns of inequality and risk. The ad-hoc engagement of civil society was crucial, but insufficient, to fully buffer the effects of inequality and marginalization resulting from formal recovery processes. We conclude that it is critical to give more attention to the interplay, and power constellations, between state, market and civil society actors to facilitate sustainable recovery and development – by counteracting potential inequality and marginalization effects. Increased consideration of cultural diversity and the support of citizens who play dual roles (and can mediate between different actors) was identified to be vital in this context. We thus call for increased research into the issue of complementary city–citizen rights and responsibilities in risk reduction and adaptation planning.


  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Disaster insurance
  • Disaster recovery
  • Facilitation
  • Housing rehabilitation
  • Inequality
  • Marginalization
  • Reconstruction
  • Resilience
  • Risk governance
  • Urban planning


  • ISSN: 2212-4209
Christine Wamsler
E-mail: christine [dot] wamsler [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se

P.O. Box 170, SE-222 70 Lund, Sweden
Phone: +46(0)46- 222 80 81
info [at] lucsus [dot] lu [dot] se