Disaster Theory

Disaster Theory

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Concepts and Causes

1st Edition - December 26, 2014

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  • Authors: David Etkin, Ian Burton
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128002278
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128003558

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Disaster Theory: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Concepts and Causes offers the theoretical background needed to understand what disasters are and why they occur. Drawing on related disciplines, including sociology, risk theory, and seminal research on disasters and emergency management, Disaster Theory clearly lays out the conceptual framework of the emerging field of disaster studies. Tailored to the needs of advanced undergraduates and graduate students, this unique text also provides an ideal capstone for students who have already been introduced to the fundamentals of emergency management. Disaster Theory emphasizes the application of critical thinking in understanding disasters and their causes by synthesizing a wide range of information on theory and practice, including input from leading scholars in the field.

Key Features

  • Offers the first cohesive depiction of disaster theory
  • Incorporates material from leading thinkers in the field, as well as student exercises and critical thinking questions, making this a rich resource for advanced courses
  • Written from an international perspective and includes case studies of disasters and hazards from around the world for comparing the leading models of emergency response
  • Challenges the reader to think critically about important questions in disaster management from various points of view


Students in emergency management and disaster studies programs, as well as practitioners worldwide

Table of Contents

    • Dedication
    • Digital Assets
    • Foreword, by Ian Burton
    • Preface
    • Introduction
    • 1. What Is a Disaster?
      • 1.1. Why this Topic Matters
    • 2. Disaster Data: A Global View of Economic and Life Loss
      • 2.1. Why this Topic Matters
    • 3. Disaster Risk
      • 3.1. Why this Topic Matters
      • 3.9. Summary
    • 4. Hazard, Vulnerability, and Resilience
      • 4.1. Why this Topic Matters
      • 4.8. Responsibility and Response Ability—Comments on Vulnerability and Community by John (Jack) Lindsay
    • 5. Disasters and Complexity
      • 5.1. Why This Topic Matters
      • 5.8. Conclusion
    • 6. Disaster Models
      • 6.1. Why This Topic Matters
      • 6.8. A Comment by Joe Scanlon
    • 7. Myths and Fallacies
      • 7.1. Why This Topic Matters
      • 7.3. Myths of Fact
      • 7.4. Myths of Human Behavior
      • 7.5. Fundamental Myths of Our Relationship to the World
      • 7.6. Conclusion
      • 7.7. Fables: of Little Pigs and Ants
      • 7.8. Case Study: the Great Flood
      • 7.9. A Comment by Joe Scanlon
    • 8. The Poetry of Disaster
      • 8.1. Why This Topic is Important
      • 8.5. A Comment by Joe Scanlon
    • 9. Ethics and Disaster
      • 9.1. Why This Topic Matters
      • 9.3. Introduction
      • 9.4. Ethics
      • 9.5. Ethics and the Construction of Riska Reflection
      • 9.6. Conclusion
      • 9.7. Example of an Ethical Dilemma: Temporary Settlement versus Permanent Housing
      • 9.8. Jean Slick on Ethical Dilemmas
      • 9.9. Commentary by Naomi Zack
    • 10. Workshop on Principles of Disaster Management
      • 10.1. Why This Topic Matters
      • 10.3. Why Are Principles Needed for Disaster Management?
      • 10.4. The Complexity of Current Principles
      • 10.5. Two Models: Clarifying Principles
      • 10.6. Tasks for Breakout Groups
    • 11. Final Reflections
    • Appendix 1. Selected Disaster Data
    • Appendix 2. Statistics Canada: Factors and Measures Related to Community Resilience
    • Appendix 3. Interviews with Ian Burton and Ken Hewitt
    • Index

Product details

  • No. of pages: 386
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Butterworth-Heinemann 2015
  • Published: December 26, 2014
  • Imprint: Butterworth-Heinemann
  • Paperback ISBN: 9780128002278
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128003558

About the Authors

David Etkin

David Etkin
David Etkin is an Associate Professor of Disaster and Emergency Management at York University, Toronto Canada. He has contributed to several national and international natural hazard projects including the 2nd U.S. national assessment of natural hazards, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), two NATO workshops, was Principal Investigator of the Canadian National Assessment of Natural Hazards, and is Past President of the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network. His research interests focus on disaster management, risk and climate change. He has over 80 publications to his credit, including 6 edited volumes.

Affiliations and Expertise

Associate Professor, Disaster and Emergency Management, York University, Toronto, Canada

Ian Burton

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  • JaredBly Tue Dec 04 2018

    Disaster Theory

    Eloquent and relevant.