Studying Disaster: A Review of the Main Conceptual Tools

November 1995 (VOL. 13, NO. 3)

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The numerous theoretical approaches to disasters can be classified into three main paradigms. We present their content, chronological developments and cleavages. The first is disaster as a duplication of war (catastrophe can be imputed to an external agent; human communities are entities that react globally against an aggression). The second is disaster as an expression of social vulnerabilities (disaster is the result of underlying community logic, of an inward and social precess). The third is disaster as an entrance into a state of uncertainly (disaster is tightly tied into the impossibility of defining real or supposed dangers, especially after the upsetting of the mental frameworks we use to know and understand reality).