How Are Natural Disasters Socially Constructed? Essay

Good Essays

With reference to various examples, discuss how ‘natural’ disasters are socially constructed.

While natural disasters such as floods, drought and hurricanes are commonly thought to occur due to environmental forces such as weather, climate and tectonic movements; a deeper investigation into the ‘disaster’ displays other contributing forces. Human factors have a large, if not equal, contribution to the occurrance and outcome of such disasters (Pelling, 2001). As Pelling (2001) argues, there is both a physical and human dimension to ‘natural disasters’. The extent to which the natural occurrence of a physical process, such as a flood or earthquake, impacts on society is constructed by that society, creating a ‘disaster’ as measured by a …show more content…

As the Marxist approach puts it, “underlying states of human marginalisation are conceived as the principle cause of disaster.” (Pelling, 2001, p. 179). This resource exclusion to particular categories of people within society creates their vulnerability to risk, and in turn disaster. McLaughlin and Dietz (2007) suggest there are three dimensions that make up vulnerability including exposure, sensitivity and resilience. An example displaying the vulnerability of lower classed social categories is in North Bihar, India, where floods have been managed through engineering works to create embankments. While the Government appears to be reducing the hazard, this has increased the vulnerability of the local people. Soil fertility has decreased reducing agricultural success, dangerous flash floods are occurring due to embankment walls collapsing and communities have settled on apparently safe embankments and are now highly exposed (Pelling, 2001). The natural flood hazard was dangerous, but these works by society have created a natural disaster (Pelling, 2001). Power inequalities have created this disastrous situation where lower classes are at high exposure to floods due to profit hungry management bodies. This technological approach is clearly failing but the Government and other managing groups make large profits off flood engineering works and have the power to decide how to control the issue (Pelling, 2001). This has resulted in creating

Get Access
Get Access