Article Index

THE CRITIC’S CORNER Consolidating the Role of the Fourth Estate in Disaster Work

Authors
A. J. W. Taylor
Issue
March 2006
Description
Reflections on the role and function of the press, radio, and television in times of public emergency, led to a consideration of the platform of critical independence occupied by the news media as the ‘Fourth Estate’ since its emergence as an important constitutional component of society in the late 18th century. The result showed that while the original raisond’être was to provide a reputable outlet for criticism of the policies and practices of the agencies of power in an emerging democratic state, vested interests have long compromised the noble purpose. The suggestion is that were the media to develop and consolidate its post-disaster work, it would improve the service it gives to the community and at the same time begin to reclaim the high standing it once had.

The Critic’s Corner Some Contemporary Issues in Disaster Management

Authors
Philip Buckle
Issue
March 2003
Description
In this paper I want to set out some of my views on a number of contemporary issues confronting disaster management but I do not have the space to address all the issues I think are critical nor do I doubt that there are numerous other issues that have not occurred to me. My assessment of some salient current issues derives from two perspectives; until recently I had responsibility for policy development and program management of disaster recovery services in Victoria, Australia and now I have added the perspective of the academic and researcher at Cranfield Disaster Management Center in England and formerly at RMIT University, Australia; research into social impacts and community responses is an activity that links these two positions. While I am generally pessimistic about how well disaster management can keep pace with a changing global risk environment I acknowledge that our thinking has changed significantly in the past decade. In particular we have been—or were—moving away from a hazard-centric and reductionist approach to disaster management to an approach that accepted the reality of social, cultural, political and economic drivers of hazard generation, risk and vulnerability.

The Critic’s Corner The Sociology of Disaster: Definitions, Research Questions, & Measurements Continuation of the Discussion in a Post-September 11 Environment

Authors
Henry Fischer
Issue
March 2003
Description
Disaster researchers come from varied fields of inquiry, practice diverse methodologies, yet we embrace some of the same, perhaps dysfunctional, academic traditions. This paper aims to stimulate diverse reactions. It continues the conversation from the 1998 edited Quarantelli book, What is a Disaster? Addressing questions such as “what is a disaster, what is the sociology of disaster, and what is it that disaster sociologists study? It will also begin to argue that it is indeed possible to measure disasters sociologically. An attempted disaster scale is offered. While it has long been argued that such a scale is untenable, it is argued herein that in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, an attempt to create such a scale is imperative. A conceptual, rather than a purely quantitative disaster scale is designed—one potentially useful to both researchers and practitioners. It differentiates between the disaster agent, or precipitating event, and the sociological focus, or social structure (and its adjustments). Scale, scope and (time) duration are applied to create ten disaster categories. The scale encompasses everyday emergencies, severe emergencies, six types of “disasters” (focusing on whether a community was partially or completely disrupted or distressed as well as focusing on community size), multiple simultaneous population center catastrophes, and societal annihilation—all forming a continuum ranging from disaster category 1 through 10.

The Cultural Scene of Disasters: Conceptualizing the Field of Disasters and Popular Culture

Authors
Stephen R. Couch
Issue
March 2000
Description
This paper is a modest attempt to encourage serious social scientific consideration of disasters and popular culture. It considers three questions: (1) How should the field of disasters and popular culture be defined?; (2)Why should we study the popular culture of disasters?; and (3) What analytical frameworks(s) might be used? In answering the questions, I argue for an inclusive view of the field and for the inductive development of its definitions and boundaries. I offer what I think are some solid reasons to study the popular culture of disasters, contending that the field is both intellectually interesting and of practical importance. And I put forth elements of one possible framework with which we can study the popular culture of disasters, one which includes three levels of cultural analysis and several comparative dimensions. Following consideration of these questions, the paper discusses an interesting example of disaster popular culture – a compact disk of music played on board Titanic – and suggests ways in which this example might be approached if it were to be studied in depth.

The ‘Culture of Disaster’ Student Immersion Project: First-Hand Research to Learn about Disaster Recovery after a Colorado Flood

Authors
Katherine E. Browne and Trevor Even
Issue
November 2018
Description
Wherever disaster occurs, there are opportunities for student learning. This case presents one such replicable project, with impacts on students’ lifelong learning and potentially transformative in shaping career choices to enter the disaster field. Specifically, it details the collaborative efforts of disaster anthropologist Kate Browne and anthropology graduate student and researcher Trevor Even to create a student learning opportunity about disaster recovery following a Fall 2013 flooding disaster in northern Colorado. Here, we attempt to tell the story of the project, including the unusually robust learning outcomes achieved by students, the content of student research, group analyses and findings, and the final collaborative student presentation of this work to city authorities and the Long Term Recovery Group heading up the recovery efforts.

The Development of Municipal Emergency Management Planning in Victoria, Australia

Authors
Paul Gabriel
Issue
November 2002
Description
In Australia, local government plays an essential role in emergency management, although not a provider of emergency services. The role of supporting emergency services and the community both during and after emergencies has been a traditional role. Added to this is an increasing responsibility as the focal point for the conduct of local mitigation using risk analysis, prioritization, and treatment under the methodology of emergency risk management. This role is part of a shift in the emphasis of emergency management in Australia away from the strong focus on emergencies and the emergency services, towards an emphasis on the sustainability of the community and its life in the context of the risk of loss posed by natural and other hazards. Models of municipal emergency risk management planning are presented to assist municipalities to connect or even integrate their emergency management planning processes with other similar community safety activities such as crime and injury prevention.

The Dialogue between Voltaire and Rousseau on the Lisbon Earthquake: The Emergence of a Social Science View

Authors
Russell R. Dynes
Issue
March 2000
Description
Disasters are usually identified as having occurred at a particular time and place, but they also occur at a particular time in human history and within a specific social and cultural context. Consequently, it is appropriate to call the Lisbon earthquake the first modern disaster (Dynes 1999). Certainly, earlier history records many instances of geophysical events, and the differences among such events were typically explained by variations in their physical intensity. However, the Lisbon earthquake occurred at a time and a place which made it a part of the debate over modernity. Its location in Europe made it a topic in the intellectual debates of the times. These debates had greater impact on the changing cultural context than the physical intensity of the earthquake might imply. The earthquake occurred when there were many strains between tradition and new ideas about progress. It was a time when traditional ideas and institutions were being challenged, when nation states were being created, and when rivalries among states led to tensions and conflict. Further, it was a time when the bonds of traditional religious authority were being challenged by a growing enthusiasm for intellectual freedom and for reason. These major political and institutional shifts were reflected in the meanings that were assigned to the Lisbon earthquake.

The Disaster Center Field Studies of Organized Behavior in the Crisis Time Period of Disasters

Authors
E.L. Quarantelli
Issue
March 1997
Description
Between its formation in 1963 and until 1989, the Disaster Research Center (DRC) conducted more than 450 field studies of community crises, the great bulk of them involving natural or technological disaster agents. The major focus was on organized behavior whether in formal organizations or information and emergent groups, and usually about the social entities involved in the preparedness and response activities in the crisis. After noting the background context within which the center operated, this paper summarizes the general methodological approach taken in the work. It depicts the substantial attention DRC paid to the prefield training that was given to the graduate students who did most of the field work. Also described are the in-field procedures followed, particularly the open-ended type of interview-document collecting that was done. Finally, we note certain postfield procedures systematized by the center to measure the quantity and to insure the quality of the data gathered.

The Disaster Framing of the Stress Process: A Test of an Expanded Model

Authors
Valerie A. Haines, Jeanne S. Hurlbert and John J. Beggs
Issue
November 1999
Description
No Abstract.

The Effect of a Natural Disaster on Social Cohesion: A Longitudinal Study

Authors
Stephen Sweet
Issue
November 1998
Description
On January 8, 1998, a severe ice storm devastated electrical power grids and caused extensive environmental damage in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. This study examines the effect this natural disaster had on perceptions of social relations in the village of Potsdam, a rural community in northeastern New York State. Residents (N=88) were surveyed on their perceptions of their community one month following the disaster. These data are compared with a survey (N=127) of community perceptions conducted three years prior to the disaster. These two surveys provide a rare opportunity to perform a longitudinal study of the effects of the disaster on social cohesion. Findings indicate that social cohesion increases in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. However, one month after the disaster, perceptions of the community return to predisaster levels. This study indicates that there are few lasting effects on social cohesion resulting from a natural disaster.