Article Index

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.

The Transformation of Community Consciousness: The Effects of Citizens\\' Organizations on Host Communities

Authors
Beth Degutis, Sherry Cable
Issue
November 1991
Description
We compare two citizens\\' organizations and find that mobilization enhanced community solidarity to the point that a collective change of consciousness occurred. We suggest that the effects of a citizens\\' organization on the host community are significantly determined by three factors: the degree of premobilization integration of the community; the presence of economic constraints made salient by the mobilization issue; and the extent to which the issue cuts across existing political cleavages. We conclude that the study of emergent citizens\\' groups in disasters is enhanced by using a social movements perspective.

The Use of Geographic Information Systems in Disaster Research

Authors
Nicole Dash
Issue
March 1997
Description
In the last ten years, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have slowly crept their way into the everyday methodological discourse in areas such as geography, urban planning, and emergency management. However, GIS has yet to be integrated into social science research on disaster. This paper uses examples of GIS use in emergency management to help inform the future direction of GIS use in disaster research. While computers and software and, for the matter, data are vital to the development of an effective system, more important are researchers who can generate theory-based uses for the technology that offer new understandings of disaster phenomena. Only through research teams that include both researchers (idea generators) and technicians (idea “implementers”) can GIS be effectively used in disaster research.

Three Essential Strategies for Emergency Management Professionalization in the U. S.

Authors
Jennifer Wilson, Arthur Oyola Yemaiel
Issue
March 2005
Description
Emergency management in the United States today is not yet a profession, but as a trade it has reached the necessary institutional maturity to advance toward a profession. Emergency management is professionalizing by pursuing the principal characteristics of a profession, namely autonomy or self-regulation and monopoly or exclusiveness (Oyola- Yemaiel and Wilson 2002, 2001, Wilson 2001). We have analyzed the current status of emergency management professionalization by investigating the efforts of various organizations at the U. S. national and state levels to organize the trade as a profession. In particular, we have examined the processes of structural formation, accreditation and certification. In essence, professional status relates directly to the institutional and individual acquisition of autonomy and monopoly to exercise the trade. We conclude that hierarchical structure, individual certification, and institutional accreditation are essential strategies for emergency management to develop as a profession.

Time is of the Essence: Disasters, Vulnerability and History

Authors
Greg Bankoff
Issue
November 2004
Description
As an historian whose interests lie in both contemporary disaster practice as well the historical roots of vulnerability, I have become increasingly intrigued by the manner in which the proponents of these two ‘fields’ approach the question of time in relation to disasters. Needless to say these actors regard it very differently. Social scientists (and here I include mainly sociologists, anthropologists and human geographers) largely pay lip service to its importance, at best mentioning its relevance en passant but giving historical analysis and specific historical example little real consideration in the greater scheme of things. At the same time, though, they place inordinate emphasis on the importance of ‘process’ as the basis upon which their understanding of what turns a natural hazard into a disaster depends. The concept of vulnerability is proposed as the key to understanding how social systems generate unequal exposure to risk by making some people more prone to disaster than others, a condition that is largely a function of the power relations operative in each society (Cannon 1994:14-15, 19; Wisner 1993:131-133). Vulnerability to historians, on the other hand, is not even really a conceptual term and, when used at all, usually indicates a state of being not a condition derivative of historical processes. Above all, disasters are primarily ‘events’ caused by a combination of seismological, meteorological or epidemiological agents (occasionally war is seen in this context as well) that have certain detrimental physical and socioeconomic consequences. At their most extreme, they may even cause the downfall of societies. However, they are rarely integrated into any wider theoretical perspective (Ambraseys 1971; Landsberg 1980). Though both social scientists and historians may talk about disasters, they are not necessarily talking about the same thing: the one sees disasters as primarily a historical processes (or processes set within recent temporal parameters), the other as non-sequential historical events. This is unfortunate because primarily disasters are both historical processes and sequential events. If this assertion sounds rather convoluted, I trust the following discussion will make the distinction somewhat clearer though no amount of clarification is really sufficient to adequately address this question. Instead, I intend what I say more as ‘a line of thinking in progress’ than ‘a work in progress’.

Time, Knowledge, and Action: The Effect of Trauma Upon Community Capacity for Action

Authors
Ali Tekin, Ernesto Pretto, Bulent Kirimli, Derek Angus, Louise K. Comfort
Issue
March 1998
Description
This article explores the relationship between time, knowledge, and action under the urgent conditions of disaster. We inquire into the conditions under which a community is able to give timely response to a catastrophic event. Such events require intergovernmental communication, coordination, and a shared knowledge base to support action. We report findings from an international, interdisciplinary study of medical response following the March 13, 1992, earthquake in Erzincan, Turkey. Data are presented from a survey of representative organizational actors who were engaged in disaster response operations and lay persons who observed the response. In the case of Erzincan, the effect of trauma, communicated across multiple ties of family, friendship, and business in the community, had a disabling effect on the community’s capacity to respond to the urgent needs of its citizens. Further, national efforts dependent upon knowledge of the community were inhibited by local trauma. We conclude that national capacity for timely, effective` response to disaster depends upon initial condition of training, communications, and infrastructure that are in place at the community level prior to the disaster.

Time, Knowledge, And Risk: Decision Making In The Aftermath Of Storm Disasters

Authors
Rolf Lidskog and Daniel Sjodin
Issue
November 2015
Description
Responses to disasters and crises are often characterized by decisions made in situations of urgency and uncertainty. Decisions are often made under time constraints and without full knowledge of the consequences of the available options. This paper investigates the role of time and knowledge in the practical governance of disasters and crises. It empirically examines the sense-making and risk governance practices developed in response to the consequences of two detrimental storms that affected a forest area in Sweden. The data were gathered in an interview study of forest advisors at a public agency, forest associations, and private companies. The analysis indicates that the actors’ adjustments to their perception of available time (time regime) and the accessibility of knowledge (desktop knowledge) explain how certain risk governing practices evolved. Thus, of greatest significance is not what is known and unknown but who knows what and when.

TMI in the Literature

Authors
Dennis Wenger, Terri Pope
Issue
March 1984
Description
A Partially Annotated Bibliography

Tornadoes Over Texas: A Study of Waco and San Angelo in Disaster and its Impact Upon the Study of Disaster

Authors
Joseph B. Perry
Issue
November 1988
Description
Tornadoes over Texas.

Toward an Explanation of Mass Care Shelter Use in Evacuations

Authors
John H. Sorensen, Dennis S. Mileti
Issue
March 1992
Description
The use of overnight shelters during evacuations is a topic of increased societal concern. Existing investigations do not provide an integrated nor consistent explanation. An assessment of existing published data lead us to conclude that many factors suggested by others are not adequate explanations for shelter use, and these include type of hazard, urban versus rural, socioeconomic status and age of evacuees are consistent explanatory concepts. Further research on this topic is needed.