Accepted Paper:

Managing the "wave of helpers": socio-technical solutions for societal resilience  


Linda Madsen (University of Freiburg)
Jens Hälterlein (University Paderborn)

Paper short abstract:

This paper offers a reflexive, praxiographic account from within a collaborative applied research project, it attends to the changing role of the citizen in the federal move towards resilience, and it discusses contemporary socio-technical interventions in emerging volunteering structures.

Paper long abstract:

Based on our participation in a collaborative research project, this paper discusses current attempts to include citizens into emergency and disaster relief in Germany. The project aims for increased resilience by creating a virtual space for integrating citizens in emergency and disaster relief. It considers the two complementary scenarios, rainstorm and human migration.

This paper explores, firstly, the changing role of the gendered citizen within the federal program for the funding of civil security research in Germany. This programme, within which our project is funded, is part of the so-called German High-Tech Strategy, which aims to strengthen the national security-economy. Following from this, the paper secondly discusses how technologies that are emerging within the research framework and the available social media tools currently used by grass-root initiatives might contribute to reconfigure the structures for citizens' involvement in emergency and disaster relief. This discussion is based on insights gained through interviews with so-called unaffiliated-, spontaneous- or convergent volunteers and with members emergent citizens groups, review of literature on the use of social media related to emergency and disaster relief and our own involvement in the research project. Finally, we consider how our and similar projects might contribute to intervene in the power relations and structures of the volunteer emergency and disaster relief organizations.

With this paper we want to highlight how analytical resources from feminist techno-science studies, and STS user studies contribute with different kind of sensitivities and open up for understanding the dynamic field of disaster management differently.

Panel A24
Disasters and participation: inventive/disruptive encounters