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Disaster as a Social Problem and Social Construct


There are few examples of studies that view disasters through a social problems lens. Disasters are seldom constructed as social problems, and when they are, such collective definitions typically follow the occurrence of major disasters that are defined as revealing policy deficits. While recognizing the importance of symbolic processes surrounding disaster-related phenomena, most research proceeds from a realist stance that takes the occurrence and consequences of disasters as givens. Too little attention has been paid to how hazards and disasters are discursively framed and how their consequences are produced through institutional and elite action. At the same time, both research and real-world developments illustrate the extent to which claims regarding the genesis of disasters, the nature of the harms disasters produce, and responsibility for causing and ameliorating such harms shift and evolve. Constructions of disaster and other perils reveal the power dynamics and reigning ideologies within the societies in which they occur.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Tierney, Kathleen. 2018. "Disaster as a Social Problem and Social Construct." In The Cambridge Handbook of Social Problems, Volume 2, ed. A. Javier Trevino. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 79-94.  https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=jdtPDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA79&ots=Af6zuT1r_l&sig=LqaO8bqch6miBt28DnCzGIaEyeI#v=onepage&q&f=false

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