COVID-19 recovery is an opportunity to enhance life chances by Building Back Better, an objective promoted by the UN and deployed politically at national level. To help understand emergent and intentional opportunities to Build Back Better, we propose a research agenda drawing from geographical thinking on social contracts, assemblage theory and the politics of knowledge. This points research towards the ways in which everyday and professional knowledge cocreation constrains vision and action. Whose knowledge is legitimate, how legitimacy is ascribed and the place of science, the media and government in these processes become sites for progressive Building Back Better.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-138
Number of pages18
JournalProgress in Human Geography
Issue number1
Early online date16 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • build back better
  • COVID-19
  • disaster
  • emergence
  • science and technology studies
  • social contracts


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