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What is a Disaster? An Ecological-Symbolic Approach to Resolving the Definitional Debate

What is a Disaster? An Ecological-Symbolic Approach to Resolving the Definitional Debate The definition of disaster remains a contested issue in sociology. Two contrasting definitions vie for attention: the generic and the event-quality. One definition ignores the physical dimension of disaster, focusing exclusively on social consequences. Another definition includes physical dimensions, but proponents of this approach cannot agree on just what physical features to include. This essay evaluates these two definitions, suggesting the strengths and limitations of each. It offers a third definitional strategy that adds an environmental and symbolic dimension to the event-quality definition. We offer this ecological-symbolic approach as a necessary corrective to the limitations of both the generic and the event-quality definitions. A concluding section demonstrates the utility of this third perspective by applying it to an important discussion in disaster research http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Journal of Mass Emergencies & Disasters SAGE

What is a Disaster? An Ecological-Symbolic Approach to Resolving the Definitional Debate

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References (10)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© 1991 SAGE Publications
ISSN
0280-7270
eISSN
2753-5703
DOI
10.1177/028072709100900304
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The definition of disaster remains a contested issue in sociology. Two contrasting definitions vie for attention: the generic and the event-quality. One definition ignores the physical dimension of disaster, focusing exclusively on social consequences. Another definition includes physical dimensions, but proponents of this approach cannot agree on just what physical features to include. This essay evaluates these two definitions, suggesting the strengths and limitations of each. It offers a third definitional strategy that adds an environmental and symbolic dimension to the event-quality definition. We offer this ecological-symbolic approach as a necessary corrective to the limitations of both the generic and the event-quality definitions. A concluding section demonstrates the utility of this third perspective by applying it to an important discussion in disaster research

Journal

International Journal of Mass Emergencies & DisastersSAGE

Published: Nov 1, 1991

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