The Structure of Disaster Research: Its Policy and Disciplinary Implications

March 1994 (VOL. 12, NO. 1)

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The context of sociological research on disaster is discussed by the various settings in which the research tradition has developed. In addition, both funders and users of that research are identified. It is suggested that the most important policy use of disaster research has been to change the conceptualization of disaster. While no specific study can be directly tied to particular policy changes, the overall research tradition has had a transforming effect. That transformation is, of course, more obvious in some societies than in others.\r\nIn the future, it is suggested that increased attention will be given to disaster preparedness and planning because of more and worse disasters. This means that social science research will continue to thrive because of its potential utility in problem solving. However, future research will be increasingly cast in interdisciplinary terms. Given the reluctance to support basic research, the relationship between applied research and the core disciplines will be come more problematic.