Rawlsian Social Contract in Disaster Governance

Eija Meriläinen, Jukka Mäkinen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionProfessional


Social contract is a hypothetical agreement amongst people to form a government for mutual protection and wellbeing. Yet in the globalized and neoliberal context states are increasingly witnessed as frames for economic activities. The global humanitarian system is filling in with disaster relief, but the aid provided is often instrumental and unaccountable. Simultaneously, resilience is promoted for the vulnerable and disaster-affected communities, highlighting their agency. These ‘communities’ are often marginalized within the states prior to a hazard – from the residents of the informal settlements to refugees without papers – and calls for resilient self-organization push them further outside the benefits of the social contract. Building on the Rawlsian conception of contractualism in this paper we critically interrogate the state of the social contract in the global disaster relief context, where the political community and the ‘resilient’ community have become disconnected. We show how the Rawlsian approach to the global disaster relief offers an alternative to the neoliberal agency perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Association of Geographers Annual Meeting
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeD3 Professional conference proceedings
EventAssociation of American Geographers Annual Meeting - New Orleans, United States
Duration: 10 Apr 201814 Apr 2018


ConferenceAssociation of American Geographers Annual Meeting
Abbreviated titleAAG
CountryUnited States
CityNew Orleans

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