Article Index

The Safe Operation of Nuclear Plants: Implementing Federal Policy in the Aftermath of Three Mile Island

Authors
Richard F. Elmore
Issue
March 1984
Description
The safe operation of nuclear power plants represents an important class of problems in the implementation of regulatory policy. These problems are characterized by a low tolerance for terror, high organizational and technical complexity, and highly visible, costly outcomes. The key to designing policies that address these problems is not to predict and regulate every possible source of error, but to design incentives such that organizations create their own error-detecting and solving systems. The current policy toward nuclear plant safety stresses technical and regulatory solutions at the expense of financial incentives that would induce utilities and plant personnel to engage in safe operation.

The Significance of the Gender Division of Labor in Assessing Disaster Impacts: A Case Study of Hurricane Mitch and Hillside Farmers in Honduras

Authors
Michael Paolisso, Amanda Ritchie and Aleyda Ramirez,
Issue
August 2002
Description
To date, most disaster study and practice have not explicitly considered the different roles, needs, and experiences of women and men in response to disasters. Disaster research that does incorporate gender analysis often concludes that the needs, experiences, and contributions of men and women in disaster situations are distinct. In this paper, we present a case study analysis of the agricultural and domestic impacts of Hurricane Mitch among rural, hillside farmers in Honduras, disaggregated by gender. Our research incorporates empirical data from 68 households and reveals that men and women reported similar physical impacts, but that they evaluated these impacts differently depending on where the impact fell within the gender division of labor. Our main conclusion is that impact evaluation and disaster policy must include a consideration of disaster impacts as they are filtered through the actual and normative gender division of labor, in order to determine the degree of priority or severity assigned to impacts.

The Social Organization of Search and Rescue: Evidence From the Guadalajara Gasoline Explosion

Authors
Dennis Wenger, Thomas A. Glass, Marcelino Diaz-Murillo, Gabriela Vigo, Benigno Aguirre
Issue
March 1995
Description
The Guadalajara gasoline explosion of 22 April, 1992, is examined to show the importance of social organization in search and rescue activities. Interviews were conducted with forty three victims that had been buried alive by the explosion and twenty two volunteers who had participated in the direct rescue phase. They reported on their own experiences during SAR and those of victims and rescuers near them. Most of the people that were rescued alive were rescued by these volunteers. Volunteers’ social identities in peer groups, extended families, the neighborhood, the Catholic Church structured their search and rescue activities. Chances of people surviving the blast were directly proportional to the presence among the searchers of a person or persons who cared for the victim and who knew the victim’s likely location. The behavior of the victims was marked by the continuation of preexisting motivational, normative, and value orientations. Victims acted cooperatively during entrapment. Most of the living victims were rescued during the first two hours of the explosion.

The Social Status of War Widows

Authors
Lea Shamgar-Handelman
Issue
August 1983
Description
The paper deals with changes int he place of families in society due to the long term effect of disaster on the family. It draws on interviews with Israeli war widows, faced with erosion in the status formerly accorded them through their late husband.\r\n\r\nThree alternative methods used by the widows to create a substitute status to halt this decline are described. None of them succeeded in preventing erosion in the status of the widow and her family. Over time, the place of the family within the various social groups and categories to which it had belonged was lost, due to the weakened position of the widow in her social network.\r\n\r\nThe centrifugal process which pushes families affected by disaster to the margin of society, creates vacancies in different social groups and categories throughout society. Quantitatively large changes of this sort might result in significant qualitative changes in the composition of those groups and categories.

The Sociology of Social Movement in Japan

Authors
Shinji Katagiri, Tsutomu Shiobara
Issue
August 1986
Description
The sociology of social movement in Japan has recently been expanding. The field has been revitalized by the introduction, mostly by the younger generation, of the resource mobilization model. The situation is parallel to that in the United States. However, Japan and the United States have differences in their respective histories of social movement and in the research done on the phenomenon. A proper understanding of the current state of the sociology of social movement in Japan, and its prospects for the future, is impossible if these differences are ignored. This paper attempts to describe the actual changes in the conditions of society affecting movements, and to place the study of movements within that perspective. In other words, the analysis of the study of social movements in Japan undertaken here is also a kind of exercise in the sociology of knowledge.

The Southern California Earthquake Preparedness Project: Evolution of an Earthquake Entrepreneur

Authors
W. Henry Lambright
Issue
November 1985
Description
A major problem for at governments in earthquake prone countries is how to improve the process of preparedness. In the U.S., a relatively novel mechanism was created to accelerate the pace and intensity of preparedness, including prediction response. Known as the Southern California Earthquake Preparedness Project (SCEPP), the entity had federal and state mandates and funding. It was an extension of federal and state policy into local government and the private sector. Established in 1980 as a temporary, three year organization under one agency in California, it continues today with a five county region of southern California (including Los Angeles) that would be devastated by an expected great earthquake on the south-central San Andreas fault. Although it had a limited budget, small staff, and experienced delays and leadership crisis in its early life, SCEPP is widely regarded today as having made a contribution to earthquake preparedness and prediction response in southern California. This article reviews the evolution of SCEPP as an \\"earthquake entrepreneur\\" and draws lessons from its record of relevance to government and earthquake preparedness generally. SCEPP represents an organizational model that may be considered by other earthquake-threatened settings.

The State of Seismic Mitigation Management in U.S. Pacific Basin Seaports and Harbors

Authors
Gilbert B. Siegel
Issue
August 1989
Description
Analysis of three sources of information (a survey of seaport officials, an analysis of expert opinion, and a case study) on seismic mitigation management in U.S. Pacific Basin seaports revealed the following seven general conclusions. There is little evidence of risk analysis having been conducted for ports. There is need for extensive evaluation of sites and mitigation technology. Older ports and facilities are most vulnerable to seismic events and, for the most part, have not been retrofitted to present day standards.

The Structure of Disaster Research: Its Policy and Disciplinary Implications

Authors
Russell R. Dynes, Thomas E. Drabek
Issue
March 1994
Description
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.

The Three Mile Island Incident: A Study of Behavioral Indicators of Human Stress

Authors
Donald M. Hartsough, Patti Madson, Rick Hufnagel, Dennis S. Mileti
Issue
March 1984
Description
This work sought to specify stress levels induced int he local population around Three Mile Island from the accident in 1979. Unobstrusive behavioral indicators of stress for the population as a whole were compared before, during and after the accident. The conclusions reached were that: (1) the Three Mile Island incident did produce stress in people, (2) the stresses detected through the indicators used in this study were short-lived, not severe enough to manifest themselves in dramatic indicators like psychiatric admissions or suicide, (3) stress was obviously reflected in indicators of mild stress like alcohol consumption, and (4) stress detected was well within the limits of stress that occur annually in that local population from stress inducing events like the occurrence of a major holiday. The conclusions of this study are best interpreted in concert with findings from studies using obstrusive indicators of stress, and with studies on special local sub-populations.

The Tiers that Bind: A Macro-Level Approach to Panic

Authors
Norris R. Johnson, William Feinberg
Issue
November 2001
Description
We clarify a theoretical conceptualization of panic as a collective phenomenon, develop an operational measure of the concept, and offer a way of contrasting differences across collectives (rather than among individuals) in order to determine if a panic as a collective action occurred. We illustrate our way of contrasting differences by using data from the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire of 1977, examining the proportions surviving of different social categories present in the Cabaret Room, where most of the deaths occurred. There is no evidence that a complete breakdown of these norms- a panic- occurred. We concluded that the evacuation of the Cabaret Room was dominated by a set of norms and role obligations consistent with the typical social order in which the (socially-defined) weak get help from the (socially-defined) strong, such as women helped by men.