The Politics of Natural Disasters
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0063
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 26 February 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0063
People around the world are far more likely to encounter death or harm because of mudslides, collapsed buildings, and flooding than front-page issues such as terrorism, riots, or insurgency. In response to the range of natural hazards, researchers of the politics of disasters have studied how individuals, communities, and states prepare for, respond to, and recover from catastrophes and crises. While some have defined disasters as events that cause one hundred human deaths or injuries or $1 million in damage, they are more broadly understood as calamities that interrupt the routines of normal life and politics and cause widespread health and livelihood consequences. This working definition separates fender benders from citywide flooding, but moving to further distinguish between “natural” and “man-made” disasters becomes quite difficult as political and social choices magnify the effect of these events, especially in the contexts of increasing urbanization and anthropogenic climate change (see the Natural, Man-made, and Natural/Technological Disasters section for more on this theme). Due to the broad effects of floods, tsunami, hurricanes, famines, earthquakes, and fires, scholars from all disciplines have written a tremendous amount on the issue. Writings on disaster and recovery date back to the earliest recorded history, including the biblical story of a great deluge and the Sumerian narrative of Gilgamesh, and continue through the enlightenment with Voltaire’s writings on the November 1755 Portugal earthquake and tsunami that destroyed much of Lisbon. Political scientists, sociologists, geographers, anthropologists, economists, and historians have studied disaster recovery, best practices in disaster response, the role of the government in rebuilding, and so forth. This annotated bibliography illuminates representative examples of the interdisciplinary work in this vast academic subfield. Most of the work selected for inclusion comes from the end of the 20th century and the early 21st century, but it builds on the work of scholars such as Samuel Prince, who wrote about the 1917 Halifax harbor explosion three years later, and on mid-1950s and 1960s work sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences.
The texts in this section include some of the classics on issues of disaster outcomes, recovery, and community involvement. Dacy and Kunreuther 1969, a pioneering book, focuses on the 1964 Alaska earthquake. While intended to develop a comprehensive insurance system, this work sets out an economic model of recovery based on historical evidence. Some scholars have seen the process of rebuilding home life and businesses as ordered and predictable (Haas, et al. 1977), while other teams of scholars have pictured communities as inherently resilient based on their quantitative data analysis (Wright, et al. 1979). Rossi 1993 uses more than eight hundred interviews conducted after an earthquake in southern Italy to struggle with broader sociological debates about structure and agency, while Alexander 1993 attempts to bring together hard and social sciences into a single analytical framework. Peacock, et al. 2000 shows how disasters interact with race, gender, inequality, and ethnicity in Miami-Dade County, using integrated qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and Alesch, et al. 2009 uses experiences from a large number of disasters to provide local community leaders and decision makers with a guide to long-term recovery. Rodriguez, et al. 2006 brings together a series of subject matter experts on disaster-related topics from a variety of academic disciplines in a single volume.
Alesch, Daniel, Lucy Arendt, and James Holly. Managing for Long-Term Community Recovery in the Aftermath of Disaster. Fairfax, VA: Public Entity Risk Institute, 2009.
Written primarily for community leaders, local government officials, and mayors, this book brings together a wealth of findings on the recovery process, with a strong emphasis on bottom-up planning and citizen involvement.
Alexander, David. Natural Disasters. Rev. ed. London: UCL, 1993.
Interdisciplinary approach from sociological, natural science, and engineering perspectives on a wide variety of disasters, including fire, soil erosion, and volcanoes around the world.
Dacy, Douglas C., and Howard Kunreuther. The Economics of Natural Disasters: Implications for Federal Policy. New York: Free Press, 1969.
Identifies various factors, such as the amount of damage from the disaster and the amount of aid provided by the government, that influenced the pace of recovery following the Alaska earthquake.
Haas, J. Eugene, Robert W. Kates, and Martyn J. Bowden, eds. Reconstruction Following Disaster. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1977.
Looks closely at both business and family life reconstruction, using data from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the 1964 Alaska earthquake, a 1972 flood in South Dakota, and the 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua.
Peacock, Walter, Betty Morrow, and Hugh Gladwin, eds. Hurricane Andrew: Ethnicity, Gender, and the Sociology of Disasters. Miami, FL: International Hurricane Center, 2000.
This book uses race, gender, and ethnicity as core frameworks for understanding issues such as recovery outcomes, insurance settlements, and vulnerability, using qualitative and quantitative data.
Rodriguez, Havidán, Enrico L. Quarantelli, and Russell R. Dynes, eds. Handbook of Disaster Research. New York: Springer, 2006.
A comprehensive treatment of research in a variety of aspects of disasters and recovery, this interdisciplinary volume provides useful oversight of the field.
Rossi, Ino. Community Reconstruction after an Earthquake: Dialectical Sociology in Action. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1993.
With 821 interviews in forty-four villages, the book is an ambitious effort that uses the recovery of households, villages, and provinces to advance broader sociological theories.
Wright, James, Peter Rossi, Sonia Wright, and Eleanor Weber-Burdin. After the Clean-up: Long-Range Effects of Natural Disasters. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1979.
Uses 10,000 census tracts and 3,000 counties to understand the effects of floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes from 1960 to 1970.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
- Advanced Democracies, Electoral System Reform in
- Advanced Democracies, Public Opinion and Public Policy in
- Advertising and Election Campaigns in the United States
- Africa, Comparative Politics of
- American Indian Politics
- Arab-Israel Conflict, The
- Arendt, Hannah
- Aristotle's Political Thought
- Arms Race Modeling
- Australia and New Zealand, Comparative Politics of
- Authoritarianism in Russia
- Bicameralism in Stable Democracies
- Big Data in Political Science Research
- Biopolitics and State Regulation of Human Life
- Brazilian Political Development
- Business-State Relations in Europe
- Campaign Finance in the Era of Super-PACS
- Canadian Foreign Policy
- Candidate Emergence and Recruitment
- Channels of Electoral Representation in Advanced Industria...
- China's One-Child Policy
- China-Taiwan Relations
- Chinese Communist Party
- Chinese Economic Policy
- Chinese Nationalism
- Civil Society in South Asia
- Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Civil-Military Relations in Asia
- Civil-Military Relations in Latin America
- Class in American Politics
- Comparative Capitalism Theory
- Comparative Industrial Relations in Europe
- Comparative Politics of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bis...
- Comparative Politics of Chile and Uruguay
- Comparative Politics of Federalism
- Comparative Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
- Congress, Defense, and Foreign Policy
- Congressional Reassertion of Authority
- Conservative Litigation Strategies and Groups in US Judici...
- Corruption in China
- Cosmopolitan Political Thought
- Crisis of European Integration in Historical Perspective, ...
- Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School
- Cuban Political Development
- Cycles of Protest
- Democracy and Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Democracy and Dictatorship in Central Asia
- Democracy in Latin America
- Democratic Citizenship
- Democratic Consolidation
- Democratic Peace Theory
- Democratic Theory
- Democratization in Africa
- Democratization in Central America
- Democratization in Mexico
- Development of Survey Research
- Direct Democracy in the United States
- East Africa, Politics of
- Economic Voting
- Election Forecasting
- Election Laws in Democracies
- Electoral and Party System Development in Sub-Saharan Afri...
- Electoral Change in Latin America
- Emotion and Racial Attitudes in Contemporary American Poli...
- Environmental Governance
- Environmental Politics among Advanced Industrial Democraci...
- Ethnic Diasporas and US Foreign Policy
- Ethnic Politics
- Eurasia, Comparative Politics of
- European Social Democracy
- European Union, Politics of the
- Failed and Weak States in Theory and Practice
- Far-Right Parties in Europe
- Federalism in the United States
- Field Experiments
- Filibuster, The
- Gender and Electoral Politics in the United States
- Gender and International Relations
- Gender, Behavior, and Representation
- Global Inequality
- Globalization and the Welfare State
- Globalization, Health Crises, and Health Care
- Governance in Africa
- Governmental Responses to Political Corruption
- Gridlock and Divided Government in the U.S.
- Historiography of Twentieth-Century American Conservatism,...
- Hobbes’s Political Thought
- Hume’s Political Thought
- Hybrid Regimes
- Identity and Political Behavior
- Ideological Reasoning in Politics
- Immigrant Incorporation in Canada
- Immigrant Incorporation in Western Europe
- Immigration and International Relations
- Immigration Politics and Policy in the United States
- Impact of Campaign Contributions on Congressional Behavior...
- Implicit Attitudes in Public Opinion
- Income Dynamics and Politics in North America and Europe
- Income Inequality and Advanced Democracies
- Income Inequality in the United States, The Politics of
- Indian Democracy
- Indigenous Rights and Governance in Canada, Australia, and...
- Informal Practices of Accountability in Urban Africa
- Institutional Change in Advanced Democracies
- Intellectual Property in International Relations
- Interest Groups and Inequality in the United States
- Interest Groups in American Politics
- International Conflict Management
- International Criminal Justice
- International Law
- International NGOs
- International Political Economy of Illegal Drugs
- Internet and Politics, The
- Iran, Political Development of
- Israeli Politics
- Judicial Supremacy and National Judicial Review
- Judiciaries and Politics in East Asia
- Kant's Political Thought
- Labor Politics in East Asia
- Land Reform in Latin America
- Latin America, Democratic Transitions in
- Latin America, Environmental Policy and Politics in
- Latin America, Guerrilla Insurgencies in
- Latin America, Social Movements in
- Legal Mobilization
- LGBT Politics in the United States
- Liberal Pluralism
- Local Governments in the United States
- Machiavelli’s Political Thought
- Marx's Political Thought
- Mass Incarceration and US Politics
- Mechanisms of Representation
- Media Effects in Politics
- Media Politics in South Asia
- Minority Political Engagement and Representation in the Un...
- Modern Dynastic Rule
- Modern Elections and Voting Behavior in Europe
- National Interbranch Politics in the United States
- NATO, Politics of
- Negative Campaigning
- Neoclassical Realism
- New Institutionalism Revisited, The
- North America, Comparative Politics of
- Oil, Politics of
- Origins and Impact of Proportional Representation, The
- Outcomes of Social Movements and Protest Activities
- Partisan and Nonpartisan Theories of Organization in the U...
- Partisan Polarization in the US Congress
- Partisan Polarization in the US Electorate
- Party Networks
- Peace Operations
- Personality and Politics
- Plato's Political Thought
- Policy Responsiveness to Public Opinion
- Political Economy of Financial Regulation in Advanced Ind...
- Political Economy of India
- Political Economy of Taxation, The
- Political Geography in American Politics
- Political Obligation
- Political Parties and Electoral Politics of Japan
- Political Thought, Hegel's
- Political Thought of the American Founders, The
- Politics and Policy in Contemporary Argentina
- Politics of Anti-Americanism
- Politics of Class Formation
- Politics of Disaster Prevention and Management
- Politics of Financial Crises
- Politics of Foreign Direct Investment in South Asia
- Politics of Higher Education in the U.S.
- Politics of Internal Conquest in the United States and Can...
- Politics of Japan
- Politics of Natural Disasters, The
- Politics of North Korea
- Politics of Science and Technology
- Politics of South Africa
- Politics of Southern Africa
- Postcolonialism and International Relations
- Post-Communist Democratization
- Preferential Trade Agreements, Politics of
- Presidential Persuasion and Public Opinion
- Presidential Primaries and Caucuses
- Private Governance
- Public Opinion in Advanced Industrial Democracies
- Public Opinion in New Democracies and Developing Nations
- Public Presidency, US Elections, and the Permanent Campaig...
- Qualitative Methods, The Renewal of
- Race in American Political Thought
- Racial and Ethnic Descriptive Representation in the United...
- Regime Transitions and Variation in Post-Communist Europe
- Regional Integration in Latin America
- Regional Security
- Regulating Food Production
- Religion in American Political Thought
- Religion in Contemporary Political Thought
- Religion, Politics, and Civic Engagement in the United Sta...
- Rousseau's Political Thought
- Rule of Law
- Russia and the West
- Science and Democracy
- Social Policy and Immigrant Integration
- South Korea, Politics of
- Spectacle, The
- State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa
- State Formation
- State, The Nature of the
- Supreme Court of the United States, The
- Systemic Theories of International Politics
- Taiwan, Politics of
- Tea Party, The
- The New Right in American Political Thought
- Transitional Justice
- Transnational Private Regulation
- Turkey, Political Development of
- US Military Bases Abroad
- US Presidency, The
- Voter Turnout
- Welfare State Development
- Welfare State Development in Latin America
- Welfare State Development in Western Europe
- West Africa, Politics of
- Worker Politics in China
- Youth and Generational Differences in US Politics