Working Papers

IRS Working Paper n°12


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Future Now: “Preparedness” and Scenario Planning in the United States

Loïs Bastide

2017, IRS Working Paper n°12



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The 9/11 attacks in New York gave a strong impetus to the development of emergency preparedness as a dominant way of conceiving domestic security and risk and uncertainty management, in the United States. This has lead to the development of a set of new practices and activities, gathered and articulated under the preparedness label. The paper stresses that the term does not circumvent a clear and coherent set of ideas and action plans, related to emergency management; rather, it ties together emerging and fast shifting concepts and practices concerned with crisis anticipation, mitigation and disaster recovery. As a consequence, it proposes to re-consider this domain of public policies by conceiving of preparedness as an organizational process, linked to the emergence of a dystopian social and political relationship to the future, in contemporary societies, and aimed at governing coming threats. This processual view allows accounting for both the heterogeneity of preparedness and its institutionalization into a unified field of public action.