Emergent Behaviors and Groups in the Crisis Time Periods of Disaster

Quarantelli, E. L.
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Disaster Research Center
This paper summarizes a sociological study of emergent behaviors and groups in the crisis time periods of disasters. It is noted that while emergent social phenomena has been observed by disaster researchers since the initial development of the field in the 1950s, the topic has not been systematically studied until recently. Building on an earlier sociologically grounded fourfold typology of organized behavior in disasters developed by the Disaster Research Center (DRC), the research we undertook focused on the full range of emergent social phenomena that could appear. The most important finding was that even in organizations and groups that were not emergent, there was nonetheless considerable behavioral emergence. This observation is used to develop a new typology of emergence that places emergent behaviors with the same analytical framework as emergent groups. Although our research focused on the characteristics of emergent phenomena, we also advance some general hypotheses about the social factors involved in emergence. Among final concluding remarks is the observation that although the sociological subfield of collective behavior has both informed and been informed by disaster research on emergence, an even stronger link would be desirable.
behavior , crisis , disaster research , emergent group