Cross-national and Comparative Disaster Research

March 1997 (VOL. 15, NO. 1)

Download this article

Distinguishing characteristics and issues of comparative and cross-cultural research, problems and opportunities, and an assessment of future prospects are offered and related to disaster research. No single approach is advocated; rather, various approaches — case study to cross-national, contemporary to historical, and qualitative to quantitative — are recommended. Methodological issues including model specification, problems of aggregation, intra- versus international variation, and secondary versus primary data collection are addressed. Particular attention is devoted to issues of equivalence related to conceptualization, data comparability, operationalization and measurement, conversion, standardization, and units of observation. The need for systematic efforts to develop research tools that can be utilized to measure critical concepts such as recovery, restoration, risk, and mitigation is identified. Finally, discipline-based, yet disaster-relevant, cross-national and comparative research addenda consistent with a broader ecological perspective targeting disasters, development, and the social production of vulnerability are advocated.