What (Sociotechnical) Resilience Is Made Of: Personal Trajectories and Earthquake Risk Mitigation in the San Francisco Bay Area

  • Charlotte Mazel-CabasseEmail author


This chapter explores the slow emergence of sociotechnical infrastructures designed to improve earthquake risk resilience in the San Francisco Bay Area. Building on in-depth interviews with experts and following their professional and personal trajectories, the chapter describes resilience as a syncretic social process: the potential result of years of hard work and risk mitigation policies. In an STS approach, and focusing on the modus operandi that connect together different key elements and stakeholders involved in earthquake risk mitigation, the chapter proposes a pragmatic exploration on the nature of resilience. To do so, we will explore some important factors such as of the role of amateur observations and lessons learned from other disasters, the impacts of building codes and progress in structural engineering, and finally the importance of the personal commitment of the risk mitigation experts. Following a historical perspective and building on some important moments of the earthquake risk prevention in the Bay Area of San Francisco, the chapter argues that resilience emerges from the collective development of a particular form of attention to the risk. In this context, it is the expert’s experiences of living with the earthquake—of waiting for it, fearing it, remembering it, and getting ready for the next one—that gives sense to these complex sets of actions, defining the contours of a collective space of risk and allowing for resilient sociotechnical infrastructure to emerge, or if forgotten, to collapse.


Earthquake preparedness Expertise Experience Organization Infrastructure 


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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