A political ecology of maladaptation: Insights from a Gramscian theory of the State

Giacomo D'Alisa, Giorgos Kallis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. This article analyzes a political process in the aftermath of a disaster and explains why and how it led to maladaptation. Grounding Gramsci's theory of the State on a case of post-disaster response to a fatal mudslide in the city of Sarno in Italy, this research argues that, under certain conditions, civil society and the ruling classes may coalesce to produce policies that are maladaptive. We unpack the mechanisms through which consent was reproduced in Sarno, and show how the claims of civil society were articulated and fused with the hegemonic goals of capital circulation and economic growth, reaffirming a view of government as only a provider of safety. A Gramscian treatment of the State as a process, and not as a thing, highlights that the main barrier to adaptation is not the lack of techno-managerial solutions. It is the lack of political struggle around the social reconfiguration of the logic and functions of the State.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-242
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • Adaptation
  • Civil society
  • Common sense
  • Disasters
  • Gramsci
  • Hazards
  • Hegemony
  • State


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