Interpretations of the term ‘disaster’
- A natural or human-induced agent or process, specifically its antecedent conditions – such as the geophysical process that leads to an earthquake; or the physical and chemical process that leads to an industrial explosion.
- The impacts of the physical or human-induced agent – the shaking of the ground resulting from the earthquake or the pollution and fire resulting from the explosion.
- Assessment above a threshold – specifically relating to the magnitude of the physical agent, ie, the magnitude of the earthquake was large at magnitude 8.7 but also the intensity of resulting damage could be classified as ‘disastrous’.
- Social disruptions resulting from physical agents – a disaster in terms of damage to property, casualties significant enough to disrupt social life, ie, severe disruption and damage irrespective of the magnitude of the causal agent.
- Actual or perceived crises that emerge from social constructs (that may or may not involve a physical agent) – Quarantelli identifies similar social responses to both actual and inaccurately perceived threats have occurred. So a disaster requires a collective type of social response.
- Disaster as an imbalance in the demand capability ratio – ie beyond the capacity of those involved to cope.
Your taskRead pages 1 to 12 of Quarentelli’s paper:Quarantelli, E.L. (1985) What is Disaster? The Need for Clarification in Definition and Conceptualization in Research [online] available from http://udspace.udel.edu/bitstream/handle/19716/1119/ART177.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y [10 December 2019]Take a moment to return to the introductory video at the beginning of the course.Which of Quarantelli’s disaster perspectives can you apply to the views given by each interviewee? What about your own view?Quarantelli’s paper was published nearly 35 years ago, has our view of disaster evolved in this time?
ReferencesQuarantelli, E.L. (1985) What is Disaster? The Need for Clarification in Definition and Conceptualization in Research [online] available from http://udspace.udel.edu/bitstream/handle/19716/1119/ART177.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y [10 December 2019]
Disaster Risk Reduction: An Introduction
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