Article Index

Studying Disaster: A Review of the Main Conceptual Tools

Authors
Claude Gilbert
Issue
November 1995
Description
The numerous theoretical approaches to disasters can be classified into three main paradigms. We present their content, chronological developments and cleavages. The first is disaster as a duplication of war (catastrophe can be imputed to an external agent; human communities are entities that react globally against an aggression). The second is disaster as an expression of social vulnerabilities (disaster is the result of underlying community logic, of an inward and social precess). The third is disaster as an entrance into a state of uncertainly (disaster is tightly tied into the impossibility of defining real or supposed dangers, especially after the upsetting of the mental frameworks we use to know and understand reality).

Studying Organizationally-situated Improvisation in Response to Extreme Events

Authors
David Mendonca, William A. Wallace
Issue
August 2004
Description
Extreme events such as large-scale natural disasters create the need for cooperation within and among responding organizations. Activities to mitigate the effects of these events can be expected to range from planned to improvise. This paper presents a methodology for describing both the context and substance of improvisation during the response phase. The context is described by (i) analyzing communication patterns among personnel in and among responding organizations and (ii) determining the appropriateness of existing plans to the event. The Substance of improvisation within this context is described by modeling the behavior and cognition of response personnel. Application of the methodology leads to descriptions of improvisation and its context that may be stored in machine-readable format for use either by researchers, responding organizations or designers of computer-based tools to support improvised decision making. Data collection strategies for implementing the methodology are discussed and selected steps illustrated using a data set from a large-scale natural disaster.

“Studying Up” on Women and Disaster:An Elite Sustained Women’s Group Following Hurricane Katrina

Authors
Emmanuel David
Issue
August 2010
Description
Existing research on gender and disaster has examined how women with limited socio-economic resources organize to manage risk and to engage in disaster-related response and recovery activities. However, as Enarson, Fothergill, and Peek (2007) have argued, “in-depth class analysis is still relatively rare in gender-focused disaster research.” Drawing on an ethnographic case study of a women’s group that self-organized following Hurricane Katrina, the author examines how affluent, philanthropic women mobilized social, economic, and cultural resources to respond to catastrophe and to engage in community-based recovery efforts. The author applies the concept of an “elite-sustained movement” (Taylor 1994) to understand how elite women mobilize socio-economic resources to respond to disaster and how resources at elite members’ reach contribute to the group’s continuance across phases of the disaster cycle. The author concludes with a theoretical and methodological discussion of “studying up” on relations of power in disaster.

Survey Research

Authors
Kimberley I. Schoaf, Loc H. Nguyen, Linda B. Bourque
Issue
March 1997
Description
We examine the kinds of information that can be obtained from well-designed, standardized, population-based surveys and demonstrate that some things which, in the past, have been considered barriers to the use of surveys following disasters provide insights into postdisaster behavior and may be advantageous. In specific, we examine: the use of standardized surveys to compare community behavior across time, events, and locations; the extent to which surveys represent the population of interest in the aftermath of a disaster; the receptivity of respondents to being interviewed after a disaster; the ability to utilize telephones for interviews after a disaster; the extent to which the data collected in a survey are perishable and subject to memory decay; the use of surveys as quasi-experimental designs for obtaining information on “control groups”; the use of surveys as a source of baseline or denominator data for ascertaining what other, more specialized datasets represent; the maintenance of verbal data collected within the context of a survey for later postcoding and analysis; and the storage of surveys in archives for use in secondary analyses by other researchers. Overall, we conclude that well-designed, standardized population-based surveys can provide an accurate picture of a community’s behaviors and attitudes with regard to disasters as well as describe the impact of a disaster on a population.

Symbolic Planning and Disaster Preparedness in Developing Counties: The Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu

Authors
Lynne Ali
Issue
August 1992
Description
In developing counties vulnerable to natural disasters, disaster planning is being encouraged and facilitated by donors. This is done in order to promote self-reliance as well as to mitigate the effects of disasters and lessen the need for a high degree of external emergency response assistance. This paper examines the development of disaster plans among the South West Pacific Island countries and pays particular attention to Vanuatu as a case study.

Synthesis Efforts in Disaster Recovery Research

Authors
Laurie A. Johnson and Haruo Hayashi
Issue
August 2012
Description
This paper reports on the progress made in disaster recovery research over the previous decades with an emphasis on the “synthesis” research, which combines different recovery concepts, dimensions, and influences into a new, unified whole. By its very nature, synthesis research has taken a broader view of disaster recovery and has tended to be more multi-disciplinary in its perspective. An examination of the literature related to urban disaster recovery and recovery management mainly from the U.S. and Japan found that, over the past 40 years, synthesis researchers have undertaken both empirical and qualitative studies of disaster cases, attempted to model and measure the process of recovery, and developed a more multi-disciplinary, comprehensive understanding of the disaster recovery process. Advances in remote sensing and computer modeling have been critical to advancing the field. There is an emerging consensus definition of disaster recovery as a complex, nonlinear process that involves physical as well as social, economic, and institutional recovery dimensions. As well, emerging theoretical constructs for urban disaster recovery are rooted in systems theory and aspects of decision theory are applicable in developing management approaches for the recovery process. Looking ahead, there is a time-critical opportunity for the research community to develop some consensus views and to work to refine the understanding of both the process of disaster recovery and its management.

Tapping Collective Memory of Disaster: Getting “Inside” the 1985 Mexico City Earthquakes

Authors
Vincent T. Gawronski, Richard Stuart Olson
Issue
November 2001
Description
Disasters achieve an enduring place or status in the history of a society by becoming part of the collective memory of its people. Using literary-cultural production and survey research data from 1997-1998, this paper explores the place of the great September 19 and September 20, 1985 Mexico City earthquakes in the collective memory of the Mexican people. The principal finding is that, of all the traumas that affected Mexico in the latter half of the 20 th century, the earthquakes of 1985 rank- and are almost twinned in importance- with the 1968 student protests and resulting massacre at Tlatelolco. Both events turn out to be historical markers in Mexican collective memory.

Taxonomy and Disaster: Prospects and Problems

Authors
Kenneth D. Bailey
Issue
November 1989
Description
Taxonomy and Disaster: Prospects and Problems

Taxonomy and Model Building for Emergency Warning Response

Authors
Ronald W. Perry
Issue
November 1989
Description
Taxonomy and Model Building for Emergency Warning Response

Taxonomy as an Approach to Theory Development

Authors
Ralph H. Turner
Issue
November 1989
Description
Taxonomy as an Approach to Theory Development