CRISES LATENTES ET CRISES REVELEESLE CAS DU RISQUE INONDATION DANS LE DELTA DU RHONE
ABSTRACT. - Latent crises and revealed crises.The case of the flood risk in the Rhone Delta. Common sense considers environmental crises as unbearable disorders that follow sudden catastrophies or unforeseen events. This shared view is partly due to the contemporary focus of mediatisation on dramatisation, unprecedented events, and instantaneousness, and it suggests that crises are brutal and dangerous phenomena bursting into in a presumedly stable context. This social view largely impregnates public policies, and explains their incapacity to anticipate crises. In addition, the current passion for patrimony, be it natural or cultural, consolidates the mental and normative distinction between Past, which is viewed as immutable, and Present and Future, which are viewed as being at stake. In contrast with this view, scientific analyses of crises consider them as part of long processes, and as emphasised moments of cycles marked by inevitable ruptures and inversions. These analyses are particularly true in ecology, economy, and medecine. By considering the recent floods in the Rhone delta (France), this paper highlights the fact that crisis is not the daughter of flooding, but, conversely, flooding is the daughter of a latent crisis, which is characterized by the social and symbolic construction of ruptures disconnected from continuities. This construction is marked by the omission of long term and natural cycles, lapses in the continuum Nature-society, and lapses in remembering the deep alterations of social change. All of these are factors which aggravate risk, and they are only revealed by catastrophies.
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