Article Index

Warning Mechanisms in Emergency Response Systems

Authors
Michael K. Lindell, Ronald W. Perry
Issue
August 1987
Description
The principal alternative mechanisms are described that might be considered by local governments for achieving prompt notification of the public in natural or technological emergency. These alternatives include face-to-face warnings, mobile loudspeakers, sirens, commercial radio and television, NOAA Weather Radio, newspapers and telephones. Each of the alternatives is evaluated on the basis of the number of people who can effectively be warned, specificity of the message that can be transmitted, degree of message distortion, coverage of the population at risk, dissemination time and cost. Data collected following the eruption of Mt. St. Helens are presented that illustrate how rapidly informal warning networks act to disseminate threat information in an emergency.

Waves of Conversion? The Tsunami, 'Unethical Conversions,' and Political Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Authors
Michael Hertzberg
Issue
March 2015
Description
Kleinfeld (2007) argues that humanitarian space should not be thought of as distinct from the political space, and that the repertoire of humanitarian actions always takes place within this pre-existing political space. This article explores this proposition within the context of the public debates on ‘unethical conversions’ in Sri Lanka following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. While, for my Buddhist informants, the tsunami was seen as enabling a sudden influx of numerous foreign NGOs to Sri Lanka, some of whom were suspected of proselytizing intentions, my Christian informants related to the post-tsunami period as involving a “suspension of hostilities”, which opened new opportunities to prove their worth to Sri Lankan society through their tsunami rehabilitation work. Indeed, some Christian relief organizations were able to temporarily negotiate a humanitarian space for themselves in local particularities. Nevertheless, allegations of ‘unethical conversions’ and the general mistrust of NGOs, which came to dominate Sri Lankan political discourse, were vital issues in the creation of a ‘nationalist’ political discourse which has had extensive and long-term effects.

“We Will make Meaning Out of This”: Women’s Cultural Responses to the Red River Valley Flood

Authors
Elaine Enarson
Issue
March 2000
Description
Recent work on gender relations in disasters focuses largely on women’s material experiences and vulnerabilities. This paper draws on cultural studies theory to interrogate gender symbolically in the context of a major U.S. flood. Based on analysis of cultural artifacts and “as well as interviews conducted for a larger study of women’s work in the 1997 Red River Valley flood, the author argues that women particularly employ grassroots popular culture to interpret disastrous events. A close reading of two flood quilts illustrates how interpersonal networks and traditional quilting skills helped women express gender-specific experiences and feelings, and convey an otherwise neglected ecofeminist critique of disaster vulnerability. The author concludes that women’s cultural responses to disasters afford a neglected angle of vision on human responses to catastrophe.

what is a Disaster? An Ecological-Symbolic Approach to Resolving the Definitional Debate

Authors
Stephen R. Couch, J. Stephen Kroll-Smith
Issue
November 1991
Description
The definition of disaster remains a contested issue in sociology. Two contrasting definitions vie for attention: the generic and the event-quality. One definition ignores the physical dimension of disaster focusing exclusively on social consequences. Another definition includes physical dimensions, but proponents of this approach cannot agree on just hat physical features to include. This essay evaluates these two definitions, suggesting the strengths and limitations of each. It offers a third definitional strategy that adds an environmental and symbolic dimension to the event-quality definition. We offer this ecological-symbolic approach as a necessary corrective to the limitations of both the generic and the event-quality definitions. A concluding section demonstrates the utility of this third perspective by applying it to an important discussion in disaster research.

What’s Gender “Got to do With It”?

Authors
Brenda Phillips, Betty Hearn Morrow
Issue
March 1999
Description
A-1\r\nMarch 1999, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 5-11\r\nTitle: What’s Gender “Got to do With It”?\r\nAuthor(s): Betty Hearn Morrow, Brenda Phillips\r\n

What's the Matter with Those People: Rethinking TMI

Authors
John Schorr, Karen S. Goldsteen, Raymond L. Goldsteen
Issue
November 1984
Description
This paper examines the long-term psychological effects of the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island (TMI) on a community situated almost entirely within five miles of the reactor. Data were collected in October-November, 1979 (Time I) from 391 residents 25 years of age and older and in October-November 1980 (Time II) from a subsample of these subjects. The findings of the study indicate that: 1) the community can be characterized as distressed at Time I and at Time II; and 2) in general, perceived threat to physical health is more highly associated with distress than personal or demographic characteristics. The relationship of these findings to previous research findings regarding long-term psychosocial effects following other types of disasters is discussed.

What We Tweet About When We Tweet About Disasters: The Nature and Sources of Microblog Comments During Emergencies

Authors
Fred Vultee and Denise M. Vultee
Issue
November 2011
Description
This study examines messages sent by users of the microblog service Twitter during natural and technological disasters. A constant comparison model is used to generate categories of content in an attempt to build an inductive picture of the kinds of messages microblog users seek and send during disasters. Results offer insights for communicators, planners, responders, and other professionals about how messages differ depending on disaster type, disaster size, and whether users are communication professionals or “citizen journalists.”

When Shall We Leave? Factors Affecting the Timing of Evacuation Departures

Authors
John H. Sorensen
Issue
August 1991
Description
Very little work has been conducted on the dynamics of human behavior in evacuations. This paper documents what is known about the timing of departures in different emergency events. This is followed by an effort to model individual variations in warning receipt and evacuation departures in the Nanticoke, PA hazardous materials fire. Among the factors which are significantly related to the time of warning receipt are the most of the first warning the proximity to the site of the emergency and the type of structure inhabited. The only significant variable related to mobilization time is the personalization of the warning. Perceived threat, age and family size were not related to mobilization time. The analysis points to the need for additional research to help understand the variability of human behavior in evacuations.

Whither the Emergency Manager?

Authors
Neil Britton
Issue
August 1999
Description
A-6\r\nAugust 1999, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 223-235\r\nTitle: Whither the Emergency Manager?\r\nAuthor(s): Neil R. Britton\r\n

Why Do People Sometimes Fail when Adapting to Danger? A Theoretical Discussion from a Psychological Perspective

Authors
Claes Wallenius
Issue
August 2001
Description
During life-threatening danger, people may react in ways that decrease their chances of surviving or coping with the event. Several empirically demonstrated reactions have a potentially maladaptive effect on performance, due to limitations in our cognitive and emotional processing capacity or the activation of obsolete adaptive mechanisms. The possible psychological explanations for this are discussed in terms of assumptions derived from three major psychological paradigms: Darwinian, Freudian, and cognitive psychology. These theoretical models all illustrate useful concepts and assumptions, which do not logically exclude one another, necessary to understand more thoroughly how psychological adaption occurs in danger situations. However, no theory alone explains the empirical findings, and the various theories should be integrated into a model that includes different levels of psychological function, from consciously controlled processes to emotional and automatic process.