The Intersection of Gender and Social Class in Disaster: Balancing Resilience and Vulnerability

March 1999 (VOL. 17, NO. 1)

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Those who experience disaster are widely regarded as an undifferentiated group, labeled “victims.” In the immediate crisis period, it is difficult for professionals to differentiate, except crudely, between varying levels of need and still carry out urgent duties and responsibilities. However, it soon becomes apparent that some are hit harder than others and that disaster are not the great levelers they are sometimes considered to be. Close examination reveals complex variations within, and not just between, social groups broadly understood as middle- and working-class. This paper examines the intersection of gender and social class in two major flood events and argues for a more nuanced appreciation of these factors, and both the conceptual and the practical level, to be incorporated throughout the disaster process.