Disaster risk reduction policies make heavy use of education for spreading a ‘culture’ of resilience at community level. This paper reflects on the uncritical way the concept of culture is used in current pedagogies of resilience. It describes how a deterministic/normative vision of culture is gradually giving way to a generative/emergentist approach. Indeed, the notion of resilience has brought with it an idea of culture that emphasizes the flexible and dynamic character of learning. The paper also illuminates the unrecognized potential for disaster education, for it can be used as a tool to absolve public institutions from failure by shifting responsibility for safety to the population. Resilience, in other words, can become a shock absorber that compensates for institutional inefficiency.