The Importance of Thinking of Disasters as Social Phenomena

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Disaster Research Center
The conception of disaster, especially the attributed source of the occasion, has changed over time. For most of history it has been traditional to view certain sudden and extraordinary physical disturbances with significant negative effects as “Acts of God” (even outside of Western Culture, a religious framework of a similar nature has been used). Whether it is volcanic eruptions or hurricanes/cyclones, the source of the disaster agent was seen as in the supernatural domain. In more recent time, and with the spread of a more secular and nonreligious ideologies, there was a shift to the term “natural” disaster, substituting nature for the supernatural. So earthquakes are the result of plate dynamics, or floods the consequences of rainfall and drainage capabilities. But in either case the supernatural or nature, the imagery is that something external and beyond the realm of human victims was responsible for whatever happened.
social, disaster, natural disaster, supernatural