23 rdOctober, 2013
Responding to Natural Disasters as a Form of Collective Behaviour
Disasters: taken from the Latin and Greek words “bad stars”, “and unfavourable
aspect of a star or planet”
- the word can be use in a lot of context. Sometimes we don’t stop to think about
what it actually means.
How sociologists think about and measure disasters:
1. Significant loss of life
2. Significant property damage
3. Damage to the environment
- When researchers began years ago the first 2 were the main factors that
defined it, but this third one is more recent, because of the environmental
moventments and consciousness.
- What we are going to focus on is responses to natural disasters.
- In 1997, article said asteroids may hit the world in 30 years. Let’s say that is
true, scientists tend to plan, so they launch a missile and they miscalculated
and the asteroid exploded, and there was a lose of life, damage to propery
and damage the environment. This is not a natural disaster, they had 30
years to prepare for this disaster. A key element of natural disasters is that it
has to be spontaneous. They are things that you have no preparation for.
The J Curve of Disasters
- There are many cases of damaging events in which there is very little damage
- As the level of damage increase, the number of events that inflict that much
- When it comes to natural disasters that kills so many lives, they are naturally
Features of Disasters
- Disasters: Disorganization or Organization? Mass hysteria, this idea of chaos.
This is kind of a myth, what the eresearch shows is that it is far more likely to
bring society together. When a natural disaster occurs you are far more likely
to see the behaviour that society is helping each other out not sort of the
opposite image, that is overrated by the media (that everyone becomes
- Disastes as Unschedule Events: it other for it to be a natural disaster we
don’t really know when it is going to hit
- Natural vs. Technological Disasters: it is more focused on natural events,
hurricanes, floods, blizzards, it is events that is based on the natural
movement and shifts of the earth. Then there is technological disasters, that
involve technology, such as house fires, plane crashes,. - Violent Natural Phenomena vs. Disasters: here the main idea is that in
order for an event to be a natural disaster it needs to have an impact on
human life. For example if a volcano erupted or a hurricane occurred, and it
occurred in an area where there is no human life, then it is not a disaster, it is
a violent natural phenomenon.
- Disaster and Human Habitation: humans can have an impact on natural
disasters. For example the cutting down trees it can perpetuate flooding.
- Planning for Disasters: humans can perpetuate disasters and make it
worse, but they can also prevent and control the damage. Yeah natural
disasters are spontaneous but that doesn’t mean we cant prepare for it.
- Social Impact of Disasters: it is how humans in the environment factor into
Disasters and Formal Organization
- Established Disaster- Related Organizations: the key to this is that they
are established, they exist and operates on a day to day basis and is always
prepared for disasters, and they can prepare for loss of damage and loss of
life. Example of this is fire fighters, they are always training and preparing in
cased of a forest fire.
- Expanding Disaters- Related Organization: it is similar but not quire the
same to established. Like established their role is to prepare for disasters but
the difference is, if a disaster exist the organization needs to expand
somehow. For instance, with Red Cross if they need to go in somewhere, they