Can Disaster Risk be Useful?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:30-10:20
RC39 Sociology of Disasters (host committee)

Language: English

All complex systems have the ability to change to a new state and do so rapidly. For example: after disasters, communities recover; climate change causes people to rethink and change their consumer habits; illegitimate governments are replaced. However, all interactions in complex systems does not necessarily lead to the enhancement of that system. If that was the case, everything we do would continuously contribute to making the system better (and more resilient). The assumption in such a system is that we plan our future in the present, based on our experiences of the past. The overwhelming approach to disaster risk management is that disaster risk has to be reduced in order to make people safe from the impact of disaster. However, the question arises whether all risks within a complex adaptive system should be “reduced”? From the perspective of the complex adaptive system theory concept of the "edge of chaos”, the idea arises that some degree of risk or chaos could be good for a system as the presence of some frailties keeps a system agile and forces it to anticipate, adapt and become more resilient. Thus, by reducing all risks, without the understanding of the contribution of the risks to the systems overall resilience, are we not actually making the system weaker and less agile, less adaptable and weaker? This session will follow a theoretical discourse and debate arguing for and against total disaster risk reduction in complex adaptive systems.
Session Organizers:
Dewald VAN NIEKERK, North-West University, South Africa and Christo COETZEE, North-West University, South Africa
Oral Presentations
Intersectionality and Transdisciplinarity in Disaster Studies
Janki ANDHARIA, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India
Uncovering Community: How to Deal with a Misleading Concept?
Alexandra TITZ, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen Nürnberg (FAU), Institute of Geography, Germany; Fred KRÜGER, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Institute of Geography, Germany; Terry CANNON, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, United Kingdom