Disaster Risk Reduction and the Development Narrative: Towards a New Public Policy Epistemic in The Future of the Policy Sciences

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Chapter in a Book

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The emergent paradigm of disaster risk reduction (DRR) invites scrutiny with reference to problem definition and epistemics. We argue that DRR is the next manifestation of the long-dominant ‘development’ paradigm. This chapter first interrogates the epistemic foundations of public policy as a practiced and studied discipline, exploring how wicked problems like disaster risk are refracted though the kaleidoscope of socio- political context. We then argue that the flawed assumptions and perspectives of the development narrative are reproduced within DRR by a power-knowledge nexus that fortifies the status-quo while fashioning the image of progress through performative and quasi-participatory mechanisms. We conclude with a recommendation to reframe the epistemics of policymaking around a transmodern approach that sees nuance and fluidity in how problems are conceptualized. The study suggests a pathway for policy sciences scholarship that examines how dominant social or economic paradigms (e.g., capitalism) underlying policy thinking survive through multiple narrative reframings.