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ERIC Number: EJ829682
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Dec
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 107
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7732
Organizing Hazards, Engineering Disasters? Improving the Recognition of Political-Economic Factors in the Creation of Disasters
Freudenburg, William R.; Gramling, Robert; Laska, Shirley; Erikson, Kai T.
Social Forces, v87 n2 p1015-1038 Dec 2008
Disaster studies have made important progress in recognizing the unequally distributed consequences of disasters, but there has been less progress in analyzing social factors that help create "natural" disasters. Even well-known patterns of hazard-creation tend to be interpreted generically--as representing "economic development" or "capitalism"--rather than through focusing on the more specific dynamics involved. We illustrate this point with two recent and well-known cases of flooding--those in the upper Mississippi River Valley and in the Katrina-related devastation of New Orleans. In the former case, damage was caused in part by building the very kinds of higher and stronger floodwalls that were shown to be inadequate in the latter. In the New Orleans case, a more important factor in the death and destruction was the excavation of a transportation canal. In both cases, and many more, the underlying causes of damage to humans as well as to the environment has involved a three-part pattern, supported by the political system--spreading the costs, concentrating the economic benefits and hiding the real risks. In very real senses, these have been floods of folly, created not just by extreme weather events, but by deadly and avoidable patterns of political-economic choices. Comparable patterns appear to deserve greater attention in other contexts, as well. (Contains 1 figure.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A