From Ground Zero To Ground Hero: Status Appropriation And The FDNY

Monahan, Brian
Gregory, Carol
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Disaster Research Center
Disasters and emergencies are often characterized by heightened levels of structural ambiguity and uncertainty; conditions which may create an opportunity for symbolic figures or groups to emerge and ascend to a position of acclaim and high status. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, one group, the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), emerged as an idealized symbol of America at its best. In the face of great uncertainty and unknown risks, firefighters came to be perceived as transcending their instrumental actions and vocations to set a standard of readiness, response, and resolve. Drawing on the microprocesses outlined by Klapp in his work on symbolic leaders and Gusfield's conceptionalization of status groups, a multilevel model is created with three goals in mind (1) extend the explanatory power of previous work by combining macro and micro levels of analysis; (2) provide a framework for discerning why some groups emerge over others; and (3) offer theoretically-informed empirical model that is both testable and predictive to the extant research on this topic.
Ground Zero , FDNY