Inequalities and Extreme Events: The Social Construction of Disasters

The dialogue that follows allows us to develop a fuller understanding of natural disasters. UNESCO specialists Zelmira May, National Specialistof UNESCO’s Education Programme, and Jonathan Baker, expert from the Ecological and Earth Sciences Programme offer perspectives on the social construction of disasters.

UNESCO’s work in the area of disasters is not limited to expertise on phenomena such as tsunamis, flooding, landslides or volcanoes. It also includes experts who work on the social and cultural aspects of risk. These aspects are particularly important or grave in Latin America and the Caribbean, since its status as one of the most unequal regions of the world has direct implications for how disasters affect the population.

In their contribution, Baker and May describe how the perception of risk as a natural phenomenon has been replaced by the appreciation that it is the product of a process of social construction, in which inequality plays a decisive role in evaluating the impact of disasters.

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This video is from the free online course:

Inequalities in Latin America and the Caribbean: Research, Policy and Management for Social Transformations