Characteristics of Citizen Groups Which Emerge With Respect to Hazardous Waste Sites

Quarantelli, E. L.
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Disaster Research Center
An increasingly noticeable feature of American society is the presence of newly formed groups of private citizens concerned with preventing and preparing for possible disasters or with recovering from actual impacts of such types of community crises. Their increased visibility and activity is probably reflective of broader trends in the country on the rights of consumers, and emphasis on participatory democracy, and an interest in organized self help, that are some of the legacies of the social turmoil of the late 60’s and early 70’s (for a partial examination of the historical background, see Boyte, 1980). Apart from any changes in popular beliefs and values about the rights and obligations of individual citizens to work together, there has also been an increase in local community and formal advocacy groups interested in activating and mobilizing private citizens (examples of the variety of such groupings are presented in Freeman, 1983). Thus, it is not surprising that there are also a variety of public interest groups across the nation who are consciously undertaking deliberate efforts to educate and train people in disaster preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation. The larger changes in American society suggest that it should be anticipated that not only will emergent groups of citizens continue to surface in potential and actual disaster situations, but that their numbers are very likely to increase in the future.
community group , hazardous waste , disaster response , disaster recovery , mitigation