Over the past two decades, the concept of ‘urban resilience’ has gained increasing attention within the field of urban planning. More recently, interest in the concept can be partly linked to the recent global economic crisis, which has stimulated much debate around pre-crisis urban development models, and more broadly around the ability of modern planning systems to adequately adapt and respond to changing circumstances. This paper reviews the scholarly literature on urban resilience and concludes that despite its increasing ubiquity, the concept still lacks precise definition, and operationalising the concept within the planning domain remains a challenge. Specifically, the paper highlights the importance of distinguishing between ‘equilibrium’ and ‘evolutionary’ understandings of resilience, with particular focus on the potential of the evolutionary perspective to aid analysis of local planning responses to the recent global economic crisis. In doing so, the paper also queries the potential contribution of new institutionalism, and discursive institutionalism in particular, in enhancing our understanding of the resilience concept in this context, and in addressing some of the common critiques attached to it.
Keywords: urban resilience; adaptive capacity; new institutionalism; crisis; austerity.