A study of the components of participatory planning with the social resilience approach: a systematic review

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Department of Urban Planning, Mashhad Branch, Islamic Azad University, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Geography, Yazd University, Yazd, Iran


Throughout history, cities have often been able to withstand and recover from environmental shocks and stresses; however, due to the growing trend of urbanization, increased migrations from urban to rural areas and the problems of suburbanization, these issues have become more frequent. This has increased the pressure on urban systems and has further limited their capacity to deal with these problems. The spread of urbanization has led to the grow of disunity in communities. Consequently, vulnerable groups in various communities, including cities, now face gradual social isolation, reduced social interactions, poor communication with organizations and weak social participation. Therefore, improving cities’ capacity to withstand and recover from hazards is essential. The need for developing an approach that can be utilized to reduce communities’ vulnerabilities and increase their capacity to rebound from stresses is now felt more than before. Taking benefit from various institutes such as central and local authorities, NGOs and their associated offices can prove very beneficial in this regard.

The realization of the goals of participatory planning can help improve sense of belonging, social capital and interactions among individuals and groups. In return, this can contribute to formation and improvement of the components of social resilience via active and real participation. As such, specification of the components of participatory planning through the social resilience approach is highly significant. In the contemporary literature of resilience, this concept is considered to be a key dimension of sustainable development and is defined as the ability and readiness of cities to respond to and recover from significant changes, risks and disasters with minimal damage to public health, community and economy. Social resilience involves a paradigmatic change in the mentality of citizens about their problems, the community’s perception of risks and therefore adoption of a new approach toward interventions required for solving those problems and mitigating risks. Civil participation and social support can have a great impact on the resilience of local communities via increasing individuals’ understanding of themselves and engaging them in decision-making processes. In addition, the support of local and governmental authorities and proper access to available resources can increase social welfare and communal readiness against future risks. However, any attempt at providing the right conditions must be tailored to local needs and stakeholders need to become aware of and understand the complexities of urban systems.

Despite recent scholarly attempts for identifying the components of participatory planning with the aim of achieving resilience, few if any comprehensive and integrated studies have been carried out so far. Therefore, this research aims to bridge this fundamental gap.

This research is quantitative in terms of the used data, systematic in terms of its analysis structure and applied in terms of the intended purpose. The methodology involved use of PRISMA and a systematic review of the literature of participatory planning and social resilience. In this type of review, a systematic and transparent method is used to identify, select and critically evaluate all relevant research as well as to collect and analyze data from existing studies. PRISMA is equivalent to reporting preferred materials for systematic review and meta-analysis frameworks. These frameworks are a comprehensive map based on which systematic review is performed. When the frameworks required for data collection are defined, resources are subsequently searched. Next, the target criteria are identified in the selected articles using PRISMA and are then combined and displayed. Among the 248 initial articles selected for systematic review in this study, 31 articles explicitly covered the main components of participatory planning and social resilience. In the final stage, thematic analysis was used to determine the objectives via open coding and the latent codes of the articles. The finalized sources were coded using MAXQDA Pro 2020 with a focus on the research question. During the thematic analysis, concise codes were extracted from the texts via scrutiny of the lines, main phrases and words in order to form concepts. In cases in which the concepts had a shared ground, they were merged to form categories.

Results and discussion

The purpose of this study was to identify the components of participatory planning via the social resilience approach and to develop a comprehensive concept via combining the two components. A total of 215 codes were identified in the selected articles, which were developed into 20 concepts and 6 categories. The main categories were: skills and empowerment of residents, potentials of local communities, sustainable recovery, synergy of institutions, social capital as well as integrated and transparent participation. The concepts of trust building, increasing awareness, empowerment of residents and crisis response were the most frequent ones. This is indicative of the multifaceted structure of resilience.

The results of this research showed that there is a significant relationship between the components of participatory planning, social resilience and the main categories. The components of participatory planning via the social resilience approach include: skills and empowerment of residents, potentials of local communities, sustainable recovery, synergy of institutions, social capital as well as integrated and transparent participation. Trust building and awareness, constituting 51.61% of the references, and empowerment of residents and crisis response, constituting 48.39% of the references, were the most frequent concepts. This shows that resilience has a multifaceted structure and it can be achieved only if all the dimensions are properly addressed. Realization of participatory planning for increasing social resilience requires building trust, which is one of the most important aspects of human relations and a basic requisite for participation and cooperation among society members. Crises result from interactions between humans and the environment. These interactions are inexhaustible and so are the crises resulting from these interactions. Although the severity of these crises can be reduced, certain issues persist such as economic problems, population growth, lack of control land use, lack of insurance for urban sprawl, suburban development problems, inadequate social structures and non-compliance with the technical requirements of constructions. Paired with natural phenomena such as earthquakes and floods, these issues can cause trans-crises in societies. Therefore, for communities to become resilient, their social problems need to be properly addressed and their physical and social structures need to be strengthened


Main Subjects

Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 28 June 2022
  • Receive Date: 31 January 2022
  • Revise Date: 22 June 2022
  • Accept Date: 28 June 2022
  • First Publish Date: 28 June 2022