Resilience, Reinvention and Transition during and after Quarantine

Kristof Van Assche*, Martijn Duineveld, S. Jeff Birchall, Leith Deacon, Raoul Beunen, Monica Gruezmacher, Daan Boezeman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


Quarantine measures and the crises triggering them are never neutral in the sense that a return to the past is impossible. These measures are also a signal of other things like systemic risks and weaknesses. A period of quarantine is also a thing in and by itself. What happens after quarantine is thus shaped both by the state of the social-ecological system preceding quarantine and by what happened during quarantine. The selectivities introduced during quarantine span discursive, institutional and material realms. Old discourses can return with a new meaning. Social and economic relations can reappear seemingly unchanged, they can be more visibly altered and they can be dismantled. Ideologies, however, to be understood here as master discourses, read problems and solutions in their own way and do not necessarily come closer to each other or disappear. All this, offers food for thought regarding the possibilities and limits of resilience and transition. We argue that the current COVID- 19 pandemic casts doubt on the generic applicability of theories of resilience and transition, yet also sheds a new light on the value of both. We propose the concept of reinvention to describe what is happening and what could happen in a more coordinated fashion. We argue that the current crisis reveals mechanisms in systems dynamics that point at the existence of multiple pathways after dramatic system shocks. Some shocks and their system- specific responses (such as a particular kind of quarantine) are more amenable to resilience strategies afterwards, while others require a path of radical transition. They might also both be needed: a rather stark transition now might ensure future resilience. While the outline of the system after transition is not clear, some desirable features are clear as are the risks and damages of the current system. Also clear is the argument for transitional governance, a temporary governance system (beyond quarantine) which can enable the construction of new long term perspectives in governance and new governance tools meant to reduce chances of a crisis like this one reoccuring
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-236
Number of pages7
JournalSpace and Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • quarantine
  • reinvention
  • resilience
  • transition


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